Tag Archives: motherhood

Motherhood (n)

A perpetual state of worry, frustration, and joy.  Nurturing and nourishment.  Living for someone outside yourself.  The complete lack of any personal space.  Not generally caring about the complete lack of personal space, but occasionally feeling just touched out.  The unhesitating willingness to boldly deal with any myriad and combination of bodily fluids.  Snuggles.  The miraculous power to heal any pain with a kiss.  Mysterious smells.  Laundry.  The feeling that your heart might just burst right out of your chest.  An unending cycle of meals, school bus stops, extracurricular activities, and “just one more” bedtime stories.  Finding the balance between selflessness and selfishness.  Wondering how you ever thought you were happy before.

Overcome

I have what might be an abnormally conscious fear of death.

It’s sort of hard for me to describe.  There is more than one facet to it.

First of all, I simply do not want to die, and I fear dying young.  I don’t want to abandon my children before they are old enough to know I loved them with all my being, and before they are mature enough to not be psychologically scarred by my absence.  I love life, I love being alive, and I don’t want it to end any time soon.

Then, there’s the fear of dying itself.  I am a secular humanist so I don’t believe in heaven or hell, or limbo, or reincarnation, or any other sort of existence beyond life as we know it here.  I believe that life just ends, that consciousness just ends, and that’s it.  Part of me really wishes I didn’t; if I could believe that when I died, I’d be reunited with my mother and grandparents and all my other loved ones, it would be so much more comforting.  I wish I could find something about death that I could look forward to.  I suppose it is fortunate that I have no reason to believe that death would be better than the life I’m living now.  Still, I dwell on it occasionally, and quite honestly, it terrifies me.  What will it feel like, to slip out of consciousness like that, never to return?  Will I know it’s happening?  Am I going to spend the last few moments of my life scared out of my mind because my greatest fear is happening to me?

I got wrapped up in all those thoughts last night, as I laid with Lane trying to get her to fall asleep.  Oh man, it is not a good or comforting thing to be so aware of one’s own mortality sometimes.

Permitted mayhem

After my last post, I tried to make up for my ‘stellar’ evening with the kids, so we did some finger painting.

But once we were done on the paper, I let the kids paint each other a bit.  And I put a big handprint on each of their bellies.

Then, bathtime.  🙂

Once Jake was asleep, Lane and I busted out the Wii and Mario Kart, and many giggles were had as we worked the steering wheel together and tried to avoid crashing into walls.

Now they are both asleep (as they should be at 2 a.m.) and I think in the mommy department, overall, I came out ahead.

My brain is fried

I spent most of the day researching mortgage rates, filling out forms online, talking to various ‘mortgage specialists’ and getting most of an application done with the company I think we’ll end up getting our loan with.  Within there I also completed and mailed out Mother’s Day cards for my grandmas (I hope they get there on time!) and went to Costco, primarily for milk.  Imagine my dismay when they were out of organic milk.  Well, they weren’t out.  But they have apparently arranged their refrigerated stock such that when they’ve run out of organic milk by 2:30 in the afternoon, they have no way to replenish the stock until the store closes.  Nice.  Oh, Lane and I also planted some flower seeds in the ‘garden’ here, just to see if we can get them to grow into the lush little flowers promised on the outside of the seed packet.  I am skeptical.

I have shifted into parenting survival mode.  This mortgage application stuff is not my cuppa tea.

Luckily I had the forethought to buy a couple slices of pizza at Costco before we left.  Lane and I shared one for lunch when we got home (yeah, lunch at 3:30… but we had a late breakfast and a snack around 1:00).  Then I just shared the second one, cold, with the kids.  And not even cut up nicely… I ripped off a piece for Jake and he walked around noshing on it, and Lane got the remains of the piece after I was done eating off of it.  I’m such an awesome mom some days.

Hopefully after a little while of not thinking about rates and points and origination fees and title searches and bank statements I can regain my brain.  Fingers crossed!

When was the last time you…

We go to Target a lot. Today our main purpose was to buy ‘safe’ sandals for Lane – ones where her toes are covered, to keep her feet a little safer for things like playgrounds and playdates. We left without sandals (they had a suitable style but not in Lane’s size) but we did leave with pop and a box thing for our TV remotes and a nunchuk for our Wii and some clearance baby food and other assorted things.

We’ve sort of fallen into a tradition of sorts at this Target. I’m not sure how it happened. We park really far away from the door, ostensibly so I can get a few more steps into my day. Then, on the way back to the car, Lane sits in the main compartment of the shopping cart, and as safety allows, I run. I go fast, and take turns nearly sharp enough that it feels to Lane like we might tip over (of course, it’s not really THAT fast and THAT sharp… she gets thrills when we go downhill in the car, after all). If I can get a good straightaway, I run really hard, then step up on the back of the cart and ride myself for a few yards. And it’s fun! Lane loves it, I get a kick out of it, and Jake’s even starting to enjoy it.

It’s really amazing how having kids around gives you a pass to act all goofy like that. I find I take advantage of it more and more. When you have a kid around you can do things like:

  • Run for the sheer joy of it — not to burn calories or train for a race or get in shape — rather, simply, for the feel of the wind on your face and the thrill of hearing your heart beat in your ears
  • Twirl around for absolutely no reason, other than because it feels funny to get dizzy
  • Blow bubbles
  • Touch a worm – or even better, pick a worm off the driveway after a rain and put him back on the grass, and talk to him while you do it
  • Dance like a complete insane person
  • Sing songs in the middle of anywhere like “I caught a little baby bumblebee…”
  • Watch ants walk around and work

It’s sort of weird how you get to your teenage years, and we all go through this period of conformity (well, I guess some people don’t). You work extra hard to appear in charge, in control. It’s good training for adulthood, I suppose, a territory where you’re not supposed to ever appear TOO happy or TOO joyful or TOO elated. Kids give you such a great excuse to break those barriers, to abandon that conformist adult behavior, even if only for the length of time it takes you to get to your car at Target.

She’s gone :(

Well, Lane and Frank have left for the in-laws’.   They will sleep there tonight, get up in the middle of the night, and attempt to get to the airport by 4:00 a.m. for a six-o’clock-ish flight to Aruba.

I got in about a dozen big hugs, and I only welled up a couple times, and cried for about five seconds after I closed the door behind them.  The crying was a surprise, I’m not a big crier.

Lane knows that flying to Aruba requires two different plane flights and that it will be really hot and sunny down there and that she has to listen to grandma and grandpa and stay really close to them all the time and to wear a hat when grandma tells her to.  She also knows she won’t see me for three going-to-beds (goings-to-bed?) and seems totally at ease about it.  She was cheery and chipper but couldn’t say good-bye enough as she was walking away from the door and getting strapped into her car seat, and threw in an “I love you, Mommy!” or two for good measure.

Then Jake and I waved good-bye from the window as they drove off.  Jake’s really big into saying “By-eee” lately so he totally enjoyed it.

She’s such a handful and I admit, I am excited to have a little time with just my little buddy for the next couple days.  But I already miss her.

Is this baby going to nurse forever? Breastfeeding Narrative #3

This is one in a series of breastfeeding posts. Really, I’m no expert – I’m not a doctor, I’m not a doula, I’m not a lactation consultant. I am simply a breastfeeding mom who has nursed one child to three years old, and am currently nursing another who is nearly a year old.
If you’re looking for specific answers, I recommend giving a visit to http://www.kellymom.com, a breastfeeding site written by a lactation consultant. These will simply be me blabbering about my experiences and is not medical advice.
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There are people out there who say things like, “If they’re old enough to ask for it, they’re too old to breastfeed.”  Or, “What are you going to do, go with him to kindergarten so he’ll have something to drink?”  Or, “A woman who’d breastfeed a preschooler must be getting pleasure from it.”  Or, the slightly less tacky but still intruding, “You’re not still breastfeeding, are you?”  People who say these things are, in a word, idiots.  Anthropologists tend to concur, based on comparative studies with other primates, that humans are naturally supposed to nurse anywhere from 15 months to 5 years old.  Left to their own devices, a child will usually wean herself in that time frame.

I started writing this post around the idea of weaning, but from me that would be odd, because I have never really actively weaned a baby.  Or a toddler.  Or a preschooler.

I’m not sure when and how I decided upon it, but rather early on with Lane I decided to mostly follow the practice of child-led weaning.  Basically, letting breastfeeding happen as long as Lane wanted to, and I was still comfortable doing it.  Lane as a baby was a breastfeeding  hound; she wanted it a lot, and protested vehemently when it wasn’t provided.  I knew that any sort of active weaning was going to cause more heartache and lost sleep than it was worth.  So, I went with the flow, mostly.

Lane nursed feverishly and with wanton abandon through her first year.  I was even pumping for her until she was 16 months old.  (I was working full-time at this point – I’ll definitely talk about breastfeeding and working in another post.)  By the time she was about 20 months I’d night-weaned her, which wasn’t too difficult because she only woke up once to nurse and after a few nights of Frank attending to her instead of me, and/or a few nights of explaining that she couldn’t nurse until the sun was back up, she was good.  At about the same time or shortly thereafter, I instituted an at-home-only rule.  She could only nurse if we were at home, not out in public.  Soon after her second birthday she only nursed first thing when she woke up, and right before bed.  She held onto those twice a day sessions for a long time: I think around the time Jake was born (she was 2.5 when he was born) she only asked to nurse in the morning maybe every other day, which gradually reduced in frequency even more.  Not long before her 3rd birthday, I instituted a 10-second rule.  When she nursed, I would count to 10.  I started counting very slowly, stretching it out to nearly the length I knew she normally nursed (2-3 minutes), and slowly the counting got faster, until she was really nursing a true ten-count.  Before she turned 3 the morning nurse was gone completely, and a couple of months after she turned 3 the bedtime session became less of a staple and more of an occasional occurrence.  Even now, maybe once every other week she might ask to nurse.  And she does, for a quick ten-count.  She still mentions nursing as part of her bedtime routine (“first we’ll brush our teeth, then read three books, then nurse, then turn off the light”) but once we’re in the routine, she so rarely actually asks to nurse.

Now through all this, I pretty much followed a “Don’t offer, don’t refuse” method – let her nurse whenever she wants, don’t say no when she asks.  Well, she asked a LOT.  So there were times I’d say no, and then I started saying no (or at least saying “not now” once the at-home-only rule was in effect).  And there were also times I offered… like soon after Jake was born and I’d be all engorged because he was in the middle of a three hour nap and my boobs hurt, or back in the day when he’d sleep through the night (yeah… he used to… and doesn’t now… oh that fact drives me insane) and I’d wake up in the morning, my boobs throbbing, and Lane would be more than willing to skim off the top for me and ease the pressure.  It was awesome that she was still nursing then, let me tell you!

Jake is pretty laid back about nursing during the day – when he gets hungry he’s just as easily satisfied with some food as he is with my milk.  Nighttime is a different matter, boy is he hooked on nursing.  I’m working through ways right now to try to minimize his night nursing because at this point it really is a habit and not a nutritional need, and I think it’s interfering with his ability to sleep more than 2-3 hours at a stretch.  So, yeah, working on ways to gently reduce his night nursing, with limited success.

So no, your baby will not nurse forever.

And if you do opt to maintain an extended breastfeeding relationship, it doesn’t mean that you’ll be nursing your 3 year-old with the same frequency you nurse your 3 month-old.  People share weird stories about kindergartners  lifting their mother’s shirts to nurse in front of other people… extended breastfeeding simply isn’t like that with most people.  Just because you nurse past your child’s first birthday doesn’t mean you can’t make rules and set boundaries.  Allowing the breastfeeding relationship to continue is not the same as being completely permissive about how the relationship continues.  As you probably ascertained from my above timeline, by the time Lane was about 18 months old, nursing for us was largely a private matter.  If she asked in public I said no, but that when we were home, she could.  Even being the single-minded, intense, willful child she can be, she handled the postponement well; as long as she knew it would happen soon, eventually, she was OK.  Remember, your body is still your body, and nobody can or should make you feel forced or manipulated or indebted to do anything with it with which you’re not comfortable.

And, certainly, my way is not the “right” way.  It’s not the only way.  It’s not the best way.  It’s just a way, and it worked for me and my family.  It was what was easiest.  I have a husband who is crazy supportive of breastfeeding, a family (both mine and his) that isn’t overly meddlesome or outwardly judgmental of extended breastfeeding, and I’m not the sort of person to cave to that sort of pressure anyway.   Any breastfeeding is better than no breastfeeding, and while I’ve found it to be one of the most awesome and rewarding things I’ve ever done, and I’ve cherished the breastfeeding relationship I have with my children more than any connection I’ve ever had with another human, breastfeeding is also the most draining, challenging, and selfless things I’ve ever done as well; it is a lot of work and it takes a great amount of willpower to stick with it even when things are going smoothly.  Throw in issues like recurring mastitis, a baby who won’t stop biting you, pregnancy and the ensuing breast pain, tandem nursing, etc., and it’s just that much more challenging.  So please don’t take this post as an unconditional endorsement of breastfeeding past a year and anything less is subpar.  I don’t feel like that’s true at all.  If you make it six days, or six months, or six years, you’ve done a great job.