Wednesday, May 6, 2015

This Day Needs Cookies

http://www.cookingclassy.com/2014/04/bake-energy-bites/

Who am I kidding?  Every day needs cookies.  I'm not much for baking but I looooove me some cookies, and these are my fave.  No-bake, 10 minutes, kid "help" friendly, and relatively nutritious. 

Just trust me.

Image: cookingclassy.com

Thank You for Knowing

Thank you all for your texts, calls and comments recently.  It's been both humbling and uplifting to receive so much support.  Your advice has been wonderfully wise, and I've read it all again and again and been so grateful for your thoughts.  What I appreciate the most, though, is just knowing that you know.  Somehow, it makes the heavy stuff so much easier to bear. 

Jill sent me this video a few days ago, and it sums up perfectly why it matters to us that other people know when we are hurting.  Thank you for sitting quietly in the dark with me.


 
 
PS:  These empathy cards for serious illness are beautiful.
 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Quite the Conversationalist



Ronan has always been quite the conversationalist, but in the past few months he's become quite the chatterbox.  He corners the neighbors when they pull in and grills them about their day, and he stops everyone we pass in the supermarket to ask them their name and what they're doing.  He's also observing more and questioning things that he hears, like songs on the radio ("Is this Hozier?") and complicated movie plots ("What's happening?  Are those means guys?")  He also tells whopper hunting stories about shooting an elk and the elk died right into the back of his pickup and then he drove home (Ronan has never been elk hunting).  Here are a few of my favorite recent conversations with him:

We were in Target this weekend, and I was trying to pick out some hairspray.  Ronan wanted to touch some of the bottles, and he knocked down a row of them with the sleeve of his coat.  He tried to stand them back up, but every time he righted a few of them he knocked more down with his sleeve, and he was getting so frustrated. 

"Hey, buddy.  It's okay.  I'll help you fix them.  Stay calm."

He burst out, "I'm just SO SO PISSED at these!"

...

A few weeks ago, Scott and  Ronan were showering up for bed while I was washing the dishes.  I could hear them talking and giggling.  Ronan said, "Papa, do you have a huuuuuge penis?" 

Scott chuckled.  "Why, yes, Son.  Yes I do." 

Ronan paused for a while, then, "Well, where is it?"

...

"Hi Uncle Ryan!" Ronan exclaimed as Ryan walked into our kitchen one day.
"Hi Uncle Ronan!"  
"I'm not a uncle," Ronan said, obviously confused.
"I know.  But it's weird when you call me Uncle Ryan.  I don't feel like an uncle."
"Oh," Ronan said, nodding knowingly.  "Because you feel like a lady?"

...

Yesterday, Scott gave Merrin a haircut in the bathroom.  As he was buzzing off all that fuzzy hair he realized the cut would be shorter than he meant it to be, and he laughed and said, "Oops!  I'm shaving Merrin bald!" 

Ronan came running from the kitchen.  "You're shaving Merrin's balls?  I wanna see!"

...

As I was walking to bed in the dark last night I heard a tiny voice from Ronan's bed.  "Mama?  I love you as fast as I ever could run."  Melted my heart!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Privilege

Yesterday, in an attempt to let myself rest from this emotional drain, I put both boys down for a nap and fired up some Call the Midwife and just vegged out.  I was watching an episode in the second season in which a mother of eight (!) discovers she is pregnant again and is devastated; her family of ten is already barely managing.  She spends the rest of the episode trying to terminate the pregnancy and very nearly kills herself in the process.  Now that I write this all out, watching Call the Midwife doesn't sound like a very light-hearted, restful pastime after all...

But it got me thinking about what a privilege it has been to choose how big I want my family to be.  We had two planned pregnancies with a by-design gap between, and now that we are considering being done, we have access to effective short-term, long-term and permanent birth control.  As a woman, I am exercising a very modern right to govern my own fertility.  And that's huge.  My grandmother told me that the only birth control she and her girlfriends had was the bucket method.  (If you know my grandma, you know what a gamble I took in asking her to explain.)  She said "Well, while the man and the woman are making love, he stands on a bucket.  And when he starts to get that twinkle in his eye, she kicks that bucket right out from under him!"  Coitus interruptus, indeed.  Now, Grandma was joking about the bucket thing (I think), but she wasn't kidding about not having other options.  You rolled the dice with your fertility, and you got what you got and you tried to view babies as blessings even when another pregnancy was the last thing you wanted.  So much has changed since then that I take for granted the privilege it is to have a family of just four.

I'm distilling this issue too far, of course.  It isn't just the antiquated burden of unwanted pregnancy versus the modern new woman who does whatever the hell she wants.  There are a thousand other forces at play here, not the least of which is our own biology and the effect our biological drives have on our desires, and in turn, our satisfaction with our lives.  Like every other living thing, we are hardwired for reproduction.  And when we choose to opt out of our "biological destiny," so to speak, we don't do so without consequences.  I think the grief I have been struggling with is one of those consequences.  Some powerful, primal force in my brain is still in full-tilt baby mode, and I am driven against my better judgment to conceive, conceive, conceive.  And feeling divided like that, within yourself, is heartbreaking.  I am reminded of the pregnancy substitute in Brave New World, a several months-long treatment designed to mimic the hormonal fulfillment of pregnancy in a society that has eradicated pregnancy as if it were a disease; the women would never dream of pregnancy, of course, but the war between their biology and their enculturation was so real and so common that there was a protocol designed to give them peace.

In this world, what is the protocol?  Jill counseled me recently to look for some supportive resources from other women who were going through the same thing.  Jill, I looked.  And you know what I found?  Heartwrenching, insurmountable grief from mothers who had lost real babies to stillbirth and miscarriage.  And I felt so stupid.  Who am I to grieve, here?  I have two healthy, beautiful babies, and I am mourning what I have not lost, babies who will never even exist. 

That is a pain of privilege.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Naked on the Internet

So, have you ever woken up one morning (possibly after having too much to drink the night before) and realized with horror all the oversharing you did the night before?  All those words you CAN'T UNSAY?!!  Heh heh.  Whoops.  I haven't actually had too much to drink in such a long time, but that's irrelevant, because somehow just the late hour makes me prone to over-honest texting and veeeeery intimate blog posting.  I had that naked, "OMG, what was I thinking last night?" feeling when I woke up this morning to comment alerts for this post

I was preparing to take the post down and delete it from DYM's Facebook feed, but I know people have read it, so it's kind of too late.  Gah!  I texted Jill in a panic.  She's my writing mentor (and life coach) and always has wise, big-picture advice; she also writes poignant, personal posts about fertility and trying to conceive on her own blog, The Ranch Librarian.  Here's what she told me this morning when I asked how she deals with sharing intimate stuff on the Internet: 
I am trying to embrace the idea that our stories all have power, so we need to share them and not be ashamed.
This is the kind of wisdom I rely on from her.  :) 

Her text reminded me of this video from Lena Dunham, who is also inspiring in her fearlessness as a writer: 

 
None of this makes me feel any less naked, of course.  But I'm trying to appreciate that all the hard things we never talk about continue to be hard things for the people who go through them after us, and that even as we are going through these hard things, feeling alone, we are probably surrounded by people who are going through the same things, also alone, and that's terribly sad. 
 
The solution?  Feeling naked on the Internet Writing honestly and sharing freely. 
 
So I'll leave it up.  But I'm going to wear extra layers today, because I feel strangely chilly...
 
 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

When It Is Over


Here's something honest:  Scott and I have decided not to have any more babies.  And even though logically I know it's the right decision for our family, I feel totally wrecked about it. It's become a source of persistent pain, like a shard of glass in my shoe, and I can't figure out how to move on.  I've been trying to write about it; that's been helpful, but I feel like I've said all the things and it still hurts.  This part of my life-- being pregnant, childbirth, nursing, caring for babies-- has become so central to my identity that I feel lost imagining who I will be when it is over. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Closet Control Freak

A few days ago I read this provocative article about simplifying your life by wearing the same thing every day.  In a nutshell, the author (a woman) was making the case for work uniforms for professional women to minimize the intellectual effort required to chose what to wear to work.  She wears a silk shirt and black trousers.  Every day.  When she rolls out of bed in the morning, what to wear is already decided.

Love that.

In my own life, my uniform looks something like this: the shirt I woke up in, the pants that are closest to the bed when Ronan finally convinces me to make him breakfast.  If I actually get to take a shower, I put on the clean version of the same thing: jeans or yoga pants, t-shirt straight from the dryer.  When I have to get dressed for a party or date night, etc, the wasted-intellectual-effort quotient hits the roof.  Here's a skirt that kind-of fits, but I don't have shoes to go with it.  And these button downs are nice, but awfully teacher-y.  I usually end up wearing the same black dress and feeling really boring.  Which is fine, I guess.  But when you only really get dressed once in a blue moon, it's kind of missed opportunity to feel good, you know? 

Kahl's story has me thinking that maybe I'm going about this all wrong.  Maybe my black dress can be my uniform, my go-to that I know I love and that makes me feel put-together.  I have a zillion showers, weddings, and parties to go to this summer, and you know what?  Ima wear that dress everywhere.  Throw on some sandals, add a little lipstick?  Boom.  Done.  Intellectual effort reserved for more important stuff (like this gorgeous novel I inhaled last week).

As for the rest of my clothes: I'm tired of looking (and feeling) like I just rolled out of bed!  Which is a sign, I think, that my transition time after Merrin was born is coming to an end.  I remember this happening after Ronan was born; it took a while to adjust to my new normal and yoga pants were the maximum sartorial effort I could make during that time.  And eventually I felt ready to be me again, so I bought new Cons and red lipstick and moved on. 

This time around, I had a little help from Jill.  She sent me a link to this post about capsule wardrobes, which, for control freaks like us, is absolutely wardrobe porn.  The idea is that you pare your wardrobe down to just a handful of versatile, neutral pieces that all work together; then when you get dressed, you can just grab and go and still look awesome.  I'm down for that!  I started editing out my favorite stuff this morning, and I packed away a small mountain of teacher clothes, stuff that requires ironing and that I therefore never wear, and a whole bunch of stuff that just flat out doesn't fit.  The result? 4 cardigans, 2 sweaters, 3 pairs of skinny pants, 2 pairs of jeans, a handful of t-shirts and solid tanks for layering, 3 dresses, 2 skirts, and the only pair of shorts I own.  (Because, shorts.  Ugh.)  I was feeling really righteous until I remembered all the clothes lurking in the laundry.  So, it's a process, I guess.

Could you trash your current closet for an uber-functional capsule wardrobe?  Here's some inspiration to get you started.  I love this idea for a maternity wardrobe too. 


PS:  Are you flexing your inner control freak on a project like this?  Alphabetizing your spices, perhaps?  I'd love to hear.  Let your Type A freak flag fly high, friends.

PPS:  My "fashion sense" is really obvious is this smaller wardrobe, which makes me shake my head.  There are about two things that have an actual pattern, and the rest are solid olive, grey, and black black black black.  Also, I can't accessorize to save my life.  I dress like a twelve-year-old boy!   :(