C & S Mommy

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Yes, it is a little drafty up here on my soapbox

As I type this I am so mad I can barely speak. I just read an article on MSN.com about “the outrage” sparked by a picture on the cover of Baby Talk magazine. People were actually upset over the picture of a baby breast-feeding on the cover. The main picture is a profile of the baby with part of the breast shown. This is the state of the world today. Brittney Spears can pose naked in all her highly airbrushed pregnant glory with only her hands covering her breasts and we find that acceptable. Show part of a breast with a baby covering it and everyone works themselves into an uproar. One woman went so far as to say her concern was her 13-year-old son seeing it. I bet the same ignorant woman convinces herself as she drifts off to sleep at night that her precious son is not being exposed to worse through the violent, sex filled video games that are out now and ever so popular. God forbid she may have to explain to her son the natural process a mother’s body goes through after pregnancy. What will he want to know about next?? How the baby was conceived?
What blows my mind even more is that even women who breast feed or have breast fed in the past are opposed to this particular magazine cover. They also admit to not breast feeding in public because of the comments and judgement passed on them. I am having such a problem with this mentality. I guarantee these are the same women snickering behind their hands and sending superior glances at each other when another mother admits openly that she has decided to bottle feed her baby. Before I even go on I need to state for the record that I only breast fed my first child for a couple of weeks and my second not at all. I also have a very rigid stance on women breast feeding children old enough to say, “Hey mom how about that boob, I’m thirsty.” However, I do not oppose breast feeding in and of itself. In fact, I give women credit when they are able to breast feed. I would much rather see a baby at his mother’s breast than to have to hear said child screaming bloody murder because they are hungry but cannot be accommodated because “well what would people think?” And what exactly do people think? “Oh imagine the nerve of that women providing nourishment for her child?” Huh?The article also states that some people feel that the uneasiness is also felt by women whose husband may not be comfortable in the presence of a woman who “whips out her breast” in order to nourish her child. Crazy. I am positive it is because these women have had an experience where they were out in public and witnessed a mother make an announcement that she will now be exposing her breast for anyone who was interested. I am certain that women then did a little shimmy for the benefit of all who may be watching her and her naked breast before she began feeding her child. Now we do need to bear in mind that regardless of what it is being used for a breast is a sexual part of a female’s body for a male and has no other use but to titillate them. Therefore any glimpse of it may send him into a blinding fit of desire where he may loose all control and therefore not be responsible for his actions. Seriously though, what planet do these people come from? I have no doubt that there are sick people who get pleasure out of breast feeding in public. But that is a whole other issue beyond the natural occurrence of a female’s body producing milk that is meant to feed her baby – the operative word being natural. Basically what people are conveying is that we are perfectly comfortable sitting in a movie theater surrounded by perfect strangers as we watch a steamy sex scene that was once only suitable for soft porn but we get squeamish when a woman discreetly uncovers her breast to nurture her child. Oh the horror!! Breast feeding is a natural part of motherhood. It has nothing to do with sex or the desire to expose one’s self. Just like I would expect a non-nursing mother to feed her child from a bottle publicly if it is lunchtime, I would hope the same for a nursing mother whose child feeds from her breast.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Phone conversation with my mother-in-law

I discovered something so amazing (actually two things) while having a conversation with my mother-in-law this morning. We were having our weekly conversation where we cram the goings on in our lives in a 15-minute phone call while she is on her way to work. These phone calls start off with, “I know you are busy so I won’t keep you,” and consist of how are the babies? Her. And (insert name of child here) did the funniest thing the other day. Me. In between we may talk about our upcoming schedules or plans that we may have made. The idea to get through these conversations is to answer the question you were asked and add in another question that has nothing to do with the original question. It is kind of the way my sister and I talk normally so I have no problem handling these conversations though sometimes I do have to close my eyes for five minutes after getting off the phone (I am not sure if that has to do with the course of the conversation or just who I am speaking with). The calls then end with the realization that we are going to need to place another phone call to each other at a better time to solidify plans or just to have a normal leisurely, give and take conversation that does not include an “On your marks, get set, GO!” mindset. Then we figure out the best time to talk, say our love yous and goodbyes and hang up. The insanity of these calls is not lost on me nor is the knowledge that I will be repeating roughly three-quarters of what I just said to her as well convincing her that she did indeed tell me the latest about a particular subject. However, we continue to have these conversations regularly.

Today I actually benefited greatly from one of our beat-the-clock conversations even though it was really no different. The topics were my dad who had surgery the beginning of this week and Keith’s upcoming weeklong training in CA at the end of August. While simultaneously discussing my dad’s amazing capacity to tolerate pain, whether Cecilia would like to see the Wiggles at the coliseum the day she is staying with them while I am at work and Keith is in CA, and how I got someone to cover my hours so I could have that Sunday off I made a comment that kind of embarrassed me and I tried to explain before she realized what I had said. The comment was, “Even though I am working until 11 I am so looking forward to coming home to an empty house that Saturday night.” I then tried to explain – quickly – that it was not that I was happy that Keith would be gone. Before I could get the explanation out my mother-in-law was readily agreeing with me stating that you had to be selfish with your time after you had kids. That is when it dawned on me – I am a selfish person. I also realized that I am not completely comfortable with that and tend to make excuses or feel guilty about it but I will deal with that another time. Right now I am just so excited because I have never in my life even considered the possibility of being selfish. I have always been the type of person who would stay on the phone for hours with a friend while she cried about breaking up with her boyfriend for the 40th time that week even though I had to get up early for work the next day. The person who kept all the phone ringers on high and my cell phone on my nightstand just in case. But ever since having kids I have stopped being that person. Granted the few friends that I have don’t really have boyfriends to break up with or late night drunken encounters with tuna fish cans and have to be rushed to the ER but still. Now only one phone in my house rings. My cell phone stays in the kitchen when I am sleeping and even sometimes when I am awake and forget it when I leave the house. And when I have that very rare free time (husband and kid free) I usually take advantage of it by curling up on the couch with a glass of wine and a book. I may even turn the phone off. I have learned the splendor of saying no and it is just not a good time. It took having kids – little people to whom I devout much of my time and energy – to truly understand the beauty of being selfish with my time. It may not be much to some but for me I find it indulgently wonderful!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Seven Years

In a week, I will be celebrating my seven-year wedding anniversary with Keith. It is so crazy that it has been seven years. On the one hand, the time has gone by so fast it feels like we just met yesterday. On the other hand I think, “Good Lord we have been together forever! How have we not killed each other?” I often say that Keith should be sainted just for putting up with me at all nevermind for vowing to spend the rest of his life with me.

Like with every other annual event that takes place in my life, my upcoming anniversary has me reflecting on the past 8-9 years. I am a little awestruck with how each experience – good, bad, and indifferent – allowed me to arrive here. Whether a person believes in fate or God or something else all together the fact is when you go back and connect the dots forward, from who you were to who you are now, it is hard to believe that there wasn’t some otherworldly force guiding you (or in my case shoving me) on this very specific path.

If someone had asked me nine years ago where I would be today I would have never said here. Here as in NC and here as in married with two children. I never dreamed of getting married. Having kids was something I just figured I would eventually do. I wanted to get out of NY and go back to school and that was about as far as my plan went. Then Keith came into my life. Our story is certainly not a love-at-first-sight-sweep-you-off-your-feet kind of romance. It is also not some drama-filled saga with an epic ending. We were just two people with different backgrounds but the same basic upbringing heading in the same direction just on different paths. I guess you can kind of say we were looking for each other but we didn’t know it. Well at least I didn’t know. For him to tell it he knew from when he met me. How we wound up together is something I still marvel at. I have been asked so many times how I knew I wanted to marry Keith and I get somewhat strange looks when I answer. The truth (and what I always answer) is that I started figuring out all the things that annoyed me about him and they didn’t matter. I knew my life would go on if we weren’t together I just didn’t want to be without him. Not really an answer that brings to mind scenes from “The Notebook,” but our history, in it’s own right, is very touching. Not because it has the makings of the next greatest love story but because it’s ours. And seven years later I can still say the same things…well sort of. The things that annoy me about him matter a little more at times and I go through periods when I think that maybe my life wouldn’t go on without him in it. But the basis of my love is still the same just way more enriched.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Running: A State of Mind?

So I read this article from a guy who started running late in his life (kind of like me). The basis of the article was why people run and it really got me thinking. I started running because finally I could. I pretty much had something to prove to myself. Mainly, I wanted to prove that the true reason I didn’t run before was physical and once the physical aspect holding me back was rectified I could do it. It seems so simple – running. How hard could it be? Well… Hard? Not necessarily. Humbling? Uh, yeah. I started last summer sort of but have been doing it regularly since January and I LOVE it. I didn’t at first and felt so many times that it was time for me to throw in my proverbial towel and just resign myself to the fact that running isn’t for everyone. But I persevered and here I am running a total of 3 miles (one mile at a time with two laps of walking in between) and walking one mile in between. I am so proud of myself and feel a true sense of accomplishment I have not felt since I danced regularly in high school. “…the miracle is that we had the courage to start…” I love this quote from the article because that is exactly how I feel. I made it so public that I was going to start running that I felt for a while that I had set myself up to fail. Every day that I went running and couldn’t get over the 4-minute run/2-minute walk mark I felt like such an ass for sharing with sooo many people that I was going to run. I probably could have stopped at that point. Technically I had proved that I could run – I mean 4 minutes of running is nothing to dismiss when you never ran a day in your life. But I kept going and that article has got me wondering why. The reason of because I could had long since ended and had been replaced with something else I just didn’t realize it until now. The article suggests that maybe we are running toward something or away from something. For a while I joked that I was running toward a skinnier me (not really joked because it was true). Now, though, there is something so much more to it. Yes, it is the sense of accomplishment and the competition I have going against myself (complete with trash-talking), but it is so much more.

I have re-read the article a bunch of times trying to figure it out. Nothing was coming to me and I was getting quite frustrated. I sat here staring at the article when this jumped out at me:
“Our running shoes are really erasers. Every step erases some memory of a past failure. Every mile brings us closer to a clean slate. Each foot strike rubs away a word, a look, or an event which led us to believe that success was beyond our grasp.”
And I thought YES! That is it. I am running away from the ugly things in my past. The things that have shaped the more negative aspects of my personality. The times that I had been underestimated and gave up. The times I was told that I wasn't enough or even worse that I was too much. I love the thought of that – the idea, the symbolism – it gives me chills. It makes me feel I can accomplish things. Maybe a healthier self-image? A better career direction? Mental health? I haven’t figured it out yet but I think the more I run the closer I will get to it.