April PAIL Theme Post

The prompt for this month’s theme post asks:

What kind of parent am I or do I want to be? If you’re already a parent, what kinds of things work for you now? Did they always? Has your view of what kind of parent you are changed? If you’re pregnant or TTC, have you given this topic much thought? What is your style likely to be? Are you a structure sort of person? Will you or did you cry-it-out? Will you or did you try to get your baby on a schedule? Did you or will you demand feed? Did you or will you subscribe to a method like Attachment Parenting or Babywise or some other method? Do you think you can spoil a baby by holding it too much?

I suppose I’ve thought about this some, but not in great detail.  Being, and staying, pregnant should obviously lead to that train of thought, but frankly I’ve gotten about as far as reading up on natural childbirth, and not much further – yet.  It’s been hard for me to picture us parenting.  It’s getting better as I get bigger, and the other current PAIL project (book club, wheee!) is helping, too.  We are reading Bringing Up Bebe (sorry, not hunting for e’s with accent marks) by Pamela Druckerman.  I’m not finished reading yet – in fact I just started, but so far, I am actually liking it.  I wasn’t sure what my preconceived notions were from the description and sample – I sort of thought I was going to either love it or hate it for being overly judgmental toward everything I haven’t even had a chance to try yet.  Not being even halfway through yet, I’m reserving final judgement.  I don’t think I’ll use it as my go-to parenting manual, necessarily, but so far there is definitely at least one thing I think I’d like to incorporate into my…I don’t even know what to call it – that’s funny.  Style?  Method?  SURVIVAL TACTICS!   I’ll not get specific yet, since I’ll be writing about the book again once I’m done reading it.  
I think what I’d like to aim for as a parent is a sense of balance.  Of course being a mother will change me, and parenting will probably be our primary focus, but I’d like it to not fully consume and obliterate everything else that we enjoy.  I don’t want to be a mother who has nothing going on other than mothering, basically.  I think it’s important for kids to be able to see their parents as people, not just as parents (or their servants, as I think happens in a lot of cases).  I want to trust my kid(s?  so greedy of me).  I haven’t read the book itself, but from what I have read about it, I like the idea of Free Range Kids, as I think that’s how my parents pretty much approached it.  Granted, it was twenty-five to thirty years ago, but we were allowed to roam the neighborhood (not every house was assumed to be inhabited by a pedophile) on foot and on bicycle (WITHOUT HELMETS, GASP!), and did not always have direct parental supervision of playtime.  It’s not that there were no rules or expectations (far from it), but we were not helicoptered by any means.  Even into adolescence, if I was keeping my grades (way) up, which I did, I wasn’t given a lot of restrictions on what I did with my free time. Not saying I had great judgement (are teenagers supposed to?) – I was really good at being bad and not actually getting in trouble.  Plenty of sex, drugs, and rock and roll (let’s not talk about the country music phase – we’ll pretend that never happened).  But I survived, without any major damage, I think.  That’s basically what I want for my kid(s) – to of course keep themselves safe, but to not be afraid to experience life.  I plan to be more open and honest about the sex and drugs part with him/them than my parents were with us (not that my parents were puritanical in any deliberate way – they simply said nothing about those things at all, ever, unless my shenanigans forced them).  Hopefully not as much will be hidden from me as I hid from my parents.  It’s gonna happen, I figure, and while ignorance may be bliss – it could also lead to disaster.  Luckily I was just a fairly normal amount of self-destructive and stupid and not bent on actual destruction.  Actually, that’s probably not so much luck as proof that my parents did an awful lot very well.
As far as my plan for the beginning, I’m hoping to be as flexible as possible, hopefully without creating unsustainable sleep and eating patterns.  I like the idea of attachment parenting (or as much as I know of it – the baby-wearing and bonding, not spanking, etc.), and I do NOT think you can spoil an infant by holding it too much (though I don’t think you need to necessarily pick up a baby within 5 seconds of a whimper, either – self-soothing is a necessary development as well).  This reminds me of a comment Mike’s dad made at Christmas, actually.  Mike’s cousin and his wife’s son was about six months old at the time, and after we left the family dinner gathering, my father in law noted that the baby was “pretty well-behaved.”  I sputtered and choked on the inside, because…yes, while I suppose infants technically exhibit behaviors, but I don’t think you could ever fairly criticize a six month old as behaving badly, either.  I’m no expert on infant development, but I don’t think that babies can be manipulative.  They’re just learning and surviving for the most part.  So even if the kid was having an awful day and cried and fussed the entire time, I don’t think you should really have much to say about it (unless of course you’re also witnessing parental abuse/neglect).  
I do not like what I’ve read about Babywise.  I’m not assuming I’ll never turn to Ferber or cry-it-out, but the criticism for Ezzo’s methods just listed on the wiki page are enough to turn me quickly in the opposite direction.  Or at least hope to feel confident enough to go with my best guess, knowing that there are plenty of guides and gurus out there to consult as necessary.  I don’t want to have so much of a plan in place that any necessary deviation throws a bunch of other stuff out of whack and I feel like we have to start all over.  I want to learn as I go (without hopefully fucking anything up too badly…like maybe his very first word shouldn’t be fuck, as my mom half-jokingly mentioned while we were stroller shopping/researching). With breastfeeding, yes, I suppose I’ll start out feeding on demand, but then hopefully get him on a schedule by two to three months or so and get myself to pumping like crazy so that we can have some to leave with my mom during the day when I go back to work and so Mike can feed him when he wants to or when I need a break, too.  If that pumping is exhausting to the point I’m not getting to enjoy my baby, then screw it, some formula there will be.  I’ll be disappointed, but hopefully not crushed.  
Basically, I want to try and stay flexible and balanced and not lose my shit over the little stuff.  I don’t think my parents were perfect, by any means, but I feel like I have a pretty good base to build upon.  I’m not going to be able to do the SAHM thing, at least in the very near future, so I want to try and enjoy as much as I can while he’s tiny – yet I have no illusion that it will all be enjoyable.  Sometimes it will probably suck rather mightily, but that’s okay.  I still can hardly believe I am getting to legitimately consider such questions…even if I maybe am not taking them seriously enough yet.  On the other hand – I don’t want to fall into taking everything too seriously, either.  It’s just really, really nice right now to be able to believe that, most likely, everything is going to be okay.    

What We Say

Not sure where to start.  I really liked Belle’s idea to go half-mast, so even though I didn’t post that intention, it’s felt right to leave Nadav’s name up at the top of the page as long as I have.  To stop the world in the small way that I could, for Mo.  Even now I hate to “move on,” blog-wise, though I know I must, just as she is starting to write so beautifully for her son.  I’ve starred so many posts in the past couple of weeks.  I guess what I mean to say is what she said, and what she said, and what she said about what I said.  It still just blows my mind how close we can feel to those we don’t “know” in a conventional sense – when you know what someone is going through or has been through because you’ve been through something similar yourself, it somehow forges a very powerful connection, whether you can pair it with facial recognition on the street or not.  So while I know I need to continue what I’ve been doing here, writing about my own so-far-so-good-fingers-crossed pregnancy and how (usually) I manage to cope with the reality that it is both thrilling and amazing and yet also completely terrifying every single minute of every single day, it doesn’t mean that I will ever in a thousand million years forget Nadav and Samuel and what their existences have meant to their mothers, their families, and to the wider ALI community.  While nobody would set out to be a member of a club that requires infertility or loss to qualify for membership, the way that this community comes together in times of grief is so touching, so healing…it is almost a sort of silver lining to the worst ever storm cloud that these intensely personal tragedies allow others in pain to find so much support, because we’re willing to share them.  Just clicking around and following links in posts written in support of Mo, I found handfuls of bloggers that have clearly been just on the outskirts of the circle I’ve lurked in for a long time.  So the circle becomes wider.  It’s that awful double-edged sword – you’d never ever wish these things on your worst enemy…but when you find yourself in deep, it’s invaluable to know there are people out there who can genuinely understand and not judge how you process and cope, because they have been there too.

And as marwil commented a few posts down, it helps to find others in different parts of the “moving on” process.  (I need to keep that in air quotes, because we all sadly know that while life goes on in most cases, you can never truly leave your losses behind completely.)  I definitely had days, many of them, when I couldn’t bear to read about a blogger’s healthy, progressing pregnancy or exciting adoption news, no matter how many losses I may have known she lived through, because I didn’t at the time know how to or wasn’t ready to believe that I’d ever get there myself. But it helped to know that it can happen, even if I can only now see that in retrospect.  And it helps to know that while you’re getting there, and when you arrive, it doesn’t have to be easy, or perfect, or only cherished and never worried about.  It helps to know that it can be what it can be, and that it’s just fine exactly as it is.  That it’s REAL, and doesn’t need to be constantly polished and presented to the world as the ideal that nobody ever really lives up to anyway.  At every point, we can actually help each other, rather than be part of the constant stream of YOUR DOING IT WRONG (sic) that seems to comprise most of the assvice one finds for dealing with infertility/loss/pregnancy/adopting/parenting.

So there is a new button in the sidebar – PAIL (parenting/pregnant after infertility & loss).  I still sometimes, often, feel like a fraud, like a fool to believe that this pregnancy will end well, with me as a mother of a living child…but I’m guessing that by the time I read through each of the blogs on the list, I’ll again realize that I’m far from the only one to have felt this way.  Thanks to Elphaba for putting this together.  May we all “make it to the other side,” and keep such good company all along the way.


Teaser Tuesday!

Yes, it’s Thursday.  Wut of it?  Been meaning to do this for much too long.  Via Amelia Witherspoon via MizB, or maybe the other way around.  I’m all hopped up on goofballs due to the Man Cold!  Good times.  I empathize, Poor Little Bunny.  Suffice it to say, I’m not a real champ about being sick.  Yeah.  That was a long time ago.

Let’s try this again.  One more time, with feeeeeling.  And…the book.  Yes, I bet it will help to have the book handy for this.  Give me just one…second.  This thing made it to and from Germany with me, I better still be able to find it in my own bedroom!  Ahhh….HA!
Okay.  The rules (via Amelia @ 1,000 Dog Eared Pages):  
  1. Grab your current read.*
  2. Let the book fall open to a random page.
  3. Share with us two (2)** “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  4. Share the title and author of the book, so we can investigate on our own if we like the teaser you’ve given!
  5. Please avoid spoilers!

*To keep this feature periodic, I will be using both teasers from current reads, and from books I’ve read before, but haven’t discussed on this blog.

**Quantity of sentences may vary, depending on how long it takes to finish the thought within those line parameters. Teasers should still make sense!

And now, how I will break the rules (shocking, I know):  the only way I can ensure a non-spoiler with this one is to limit “random” to the pages I’ve already read.  Because I haven’t gotten very far.  Apparently, (SPOILER ALERT, or so I hear) there’s a murder.  But I still haven’t gotten there yet.  STILL.  I KNOW.  Given how long this book is, two sentences likely won’t do it.  Oh wait, Amelia already asterisked this for me.  D’oh.  Onward!
Oh, sweet.  I swear I didn’t fix this purposely, but it’s a good one.  Close to the section that made me want to tease this book on a Tuesday to begin with!  Drumroll, please….
From page 26 of The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky, translated from the Russian by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky (The NYT Book Review says, “One finally gets the musical whole of Dostoevsky’s original.”):

In the realist, faith is not born from miracles, but miracles from faith.  Once the realist comes to believe, then, precisely because of his realism, he must also allow for miracles.  The Apostle Thomas declared that he would not believe until he saw, and when he saw, he said:  “My Lord and my God!”  Was it the miracle that made him believe?  Most likely not, but he believed first and foremost because he wished to believe, and maybe already fully believed in his secret heart even as he was saying:  “I will not believe until I see.”

Yummy, huh?  I’ll spare you the footnote endnote on Thomas, I bet you can google him for yourself if need be, but I can’t resist also giving you the blurb on the back, perhaps more so to entice myself to read further, faster.  It’s definitely not boring, but there are a lot of endnotes to get sucked into and I get sleepy when I hold a book.  Shhhhh.  Old habits die hard.

The Brothers Karamazov is a murder mystery, a courtroom drama, and an exploration of erotic rivalry in a series of triangular love affairs involving the “wicked and sentimental” Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov and his three sons – the impulsive and sensual Dmitri; the coldly rational Ivan; and the healthy, red-cheeked young novice Alyosha.  Through the gripping events of their story, Dostoevsky portrays the whole of Russian life, its social and spiritual strivings, in what was both the golden age and a tragic turning point in Russian culture.  [paragraph break.  Blogger (even in draft!), you confound me.]  This award-winning translation by RP and LV remains true to the verbal inventiveness of Dostoevsky’s prose, preserving the multiple voices, the humor, and the surprising modernity of the original.  It is an achievement worthy of Dostoevsky’s last and greatest novel. 

What the hell, I’ve come this far.

“[Dostoevsky] is at once the most literary and compulsively readable novelists we continue to regard as great…The Brothers Karamazov stands as the culmination of his art – his last, longest, richest, and most capacious book.  [This] scrupulous rendition can only  be welcomed.  It returns to us a work we thought we knew, subtly altered and so made new again.”  – Donald Fanger, The Washington Post Book World

“It may well be that Dostoevsky’s [world], with all its resourceful energies of lifele and language, is only now – and through the medium of [this] new translation – beginning to come home to the English-speaking reader.” – John Bayley, The New York Review of Books

Mkay, I think they said it well.  And without music videos!  Now.  Pedicure.  I can do this.  Hopefully.  I should probably eat first.  Fooood.   What’s for dinner?

And then that happened….

Or I’m just paranoid.  Probably that.  But whatever.  It’s not as though I can just CHANGE at the drop of a handful of pins and needles and magically become a private person.  I surely ought…but…I obviously have a lot to say of late, so perhaps I’ll start wanting to come out and say at least some of it if I build some walls.  Perhaps temporary walls, but load bearing all the same.  Hopefully.  We shall see  Hmm…today I laughed at…oh yes!  I think it was today, anyhow.  Analogies.

From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you’re on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.

I can’t pick a favorite…will let the Mad Men instruct.  They make it so easy.  Oh yes.  And this is what I wore to work today:

[picture to be inserted when I’m a little less lazy.  so probably never.]

…stalk me again whilst I’m walking and I will cut your fucking Jacobs off.  Unfortunately I have places to be and shit…or I’d take the time to dick around with whatever silliness this is all about.  Le sigh.  So yes…anybody I’m leaving out that should not be left out probably knows where to find me if they really care that much.  Or someone who does.  Creeeeepy.  Like when Jeopardy is all wrong.

Quit it, Tuesday. I’m warning you.

It’s remarkable how quickly a bad pair of shoes can ruin a day.  That wasn’t one of the actual problems today, but still….blerg.  I’m so sick of starting the day angry because I have nothing to wear, working in a rage all day long, then…well, it’s also remarkable how cranky I get if I forget to just take off the effing bra when I get home.  Hah.  Hilariously petty, but true.  I find myself still in a snit at nine PM like WTF SELF?  THE BAD PART OF THE DAY IS OVER, SO GET OVER IT.  Oh…why am I still wearing pants that button and a bra?  Ahhhhhhh.  Better.
Bonus – I found the flipflops!  Thanks, babe…for organizing my closet while I was out of town.  Nothing like a scavenger hunt for your own shit.  It’s even better than shopping because it’s FREE.  Unlike the tire we’re going to have to replace.  Boo.  On the plus side (ha), I may be gaining ground on the whole weight gain thing.  At some point, Mike is going to have to stop baking cookies or I’ll be going way past where I want to get with that number on the scale, but…today is just not the day to quit cold turkey with the cookies.  Maybe tomorrow.  Right now, cookie crack is probably the least dangerous thing I can imagine indulging in to kill the pain.  I think I need some Mumfords, too.  And some Mad Men.  Mkay…le sigh…much better.  
Crap.  It’s LOST time…and I never watched the one from last week.  It’s bad when I’m failing at TV on top of everything else.  I should just go read my book.  I repeat, BLERG.  Okay, definition #4 just cracked me up.  So there’s that, at least.  I’ll take it.

Oh yes, that blog thing I do…did…do.

Finally got over the hump with that horrible disgustingness I suppose they call a sinus infection.  Pro tip:  if you’re miserable, go to the doctor.  Sooner than later.  Also, maybe stay home and lay on the couch for a day…or two.  Definitely don’t go on a four-day business trip driving through mountains (POP, EARDRUM, JUST POP…wait…OW) with basically zero down time and no hotel reservations and wow that was SO much fun, especially that night in the dry county with the 10% discount off dinner at the truck stop!  Otherwise you end up at an Urgent Care on a Saturday morning after two weeks on Sudafed with the doctor who pretty much thinks you’re crazy and no, it’s not H1N1 you big baby, here’s a Z-pack (I’ll leave it at your discretion whether you want to take it or not.  So helpful.) and some $60 nasal spray and wow, your blood pressure is pretty high.  I see you just turned thirty, don’t you want to live to see forty?  You know, blood pressure is the silent killer.  So that guy’s like my FAVORITE.  [But shit, note to self – have that checked again like the good doctor said, maybe once not wound tighter than a new spool of thread.  And maybe find a GP with an actual, you know, PRACTICE.]

So yeah, that happened.  The turning thirty thing.  I suppose if I were drinking wine rather than coffee I might write some mushy sentimental thing about what I want to do with my next thirty years and reflect back over the last thirty years, but…meh.  Who wants to read that?  The same people patient enough to read silly rants about sickness I promised myself I wasn’t going to write.  Oops.  I was still rather feverish, so there are parts I totally don’t remember at all, but we did go celebrate a bit – saw the eminent Jim Gaffigan, bacon and hotpocket encore and all:

Much funnier than the fact we missed probably the first 20 minutes because the parking garage next to the theater kept letting people in even though all the empty spaces were marked RESERVED 24 HOURS so we all just drove allllll the way to the top and then back down at a snails pace, everyone honking and WTFing.  Good times.  I didn’t hear about a riot, but I must admit it’s a pretty good racket – we still had to pay three or five bucks or something to exit the effing thing.  If there was an attendant at some point, he or she probably ran screaming into the hills.

Speaking of Jesus…what. the. fuck (via suntzusays), Pope ?  You disgust me.  Obviously I’ve a bit of an axe to grind with the church, but this shit never fails to blow my mind.  THREE DAYS AGO?  Okay, longer ago than that now…but seriously.  SERIOUSLY?  It’s as if this stuff has been falling out of the closet so long now people are just numb to it.  It’s background noise.  Or maybe I’m just a disloyal person – there’s NO WAY IN HELL I’d ever baptize my [future theoretical] children into that.  No matter what.  Other money quote from the NYT article:

But she also said it was time that the church stopped hiding abuse cases and questioned why priests seemed to be held to a less strict standard of morality than ordinary parishioners. “If you get divorced and remarry you can’t take communion, but someone convicted of molesting children can celebrate Mass for the rest of his life,” she said.

I’ve waffled a bit on the baptism thing in my own mind over time. Five years ago, I might have said, ehhh, let’s just keep Dad happy. Even a year ago, maybe, but now? No way. Never. It must be the CASA work. That’s the other thing that’s got me all wound up and nursing a broken heart for people I barely know. Living with your kids in your uncle’s house, who used to molest his own kids? Bad idea. Smoking crack? Bad idea. Sending your kids to visit with their father, your abusive ex-husband who indicated deception on a polygraph regarding molesting one of your kids? BAD IDEA. Your kids are beautiful and innocent, even filthy and lice-ridden and probably all stripped of their innocence long ago, by someone they were taught to trust, someone they should have been able to trust. I know on some level, you love them and would do anything for them. Find the level, I beg thee. They like to read. You know what might be really nice? TAKE THEM TO THE LIBRARY. IT’S FREE. I’m sorry – am I making this sound too easy? Maybe I have no clue because I’m not a parent, but I am SO frustrated by this one. Heartbroken. I gotta go buy some books. And crank this, because I have been far too sympathetic.

I don’t want to be hostile.
I don’t want to be dismal.
But I don’t want to rot in an apathetic existence either.
See I want to believe you,
and I want to trust
and I want to have faith to put away the dagger.

But you lie, cheat, and steal.
And yet I tolerate you.
Veil of virtue hung to hide your method
while I smile and laugh and dance
and sing your praise and glory.
Shroud of virtue hung to mask your stigma
as I smile and laugh and dance
and sing your glory
while you
lie, cheat, and steal.
How can I tolerate you.

Our guilt,our blame ,
I’ve been far too sympathetic.
Our blood, our fault.
I’ve been far too sympathetic.

I am not innocent.
You are not innocent.

Noone is innocent.