My Journey Through Motherhood

Sunday, April 20, 2008

On my way to becoming a neat, organized mother impersonator

I'm exhausted. For those who don't call motherhood/housewife-dom work, they need to walk a week in our shoes. I actually decided that I would try to achieve something this week, rather than sit on my lazy arse bemoaning the fact that the kitchen sink was overflowing with dishes, the hamper buried under a pile of clothing, and one could not make it to the bathroom without tripping over a toy. I've come to the conclusion that if and when I actually try, and mind you, not try that hard, I can actually get close to my ideal goal of being a neat, organized mother impersonator. Since I know that I can never actually be neat and organized because of some genetic defect or some chemical imbalance, I can only seek to impersonate.

I am a little obsessive with lists. I also defeat the purpose of completing tasks on such lists by creating new lists with the leftover tasks and then adding five (or ten) more. It's mind-numbing craziness. I should probably make an appointment with the head-shrinkers pronto (except they'd just want to drug me up, and pass that off as normal).

Today, I managed to make 100% whole wheat bread (sans bread-maker, mind you), roast a chicken, return books to library, and take 1/2 of recycling out (the dumpster was full, and who knows, I might need a box full of newspapers for something, right?). Then, at dinner, as husband was praising the chicken, I sighed, "I didn't get anything done today." He looked at me like he thought he should call the nuthouse, then proceeded to list my accomplishments. And good thing too, because now I can make a new list out of the leftover undone things I still need to do!

Later, sitting on the couch, while finishing up knitting a dishcloth, musing about a friend I have who seems amazing in her ability to be crafty, have a freelance job, teach her child sign language, making delicious gourmet-sounding meals frequently, all the while keeping up with her friends far and near (yes, A, if you are reading this, I'm talking about you). Where does one find the energy? I mean, seriously, how many cups of coffee will I have to drink? Apparently one in the morning for starters is not enough.

If all this work doesn't give us the right to be cranky, than what does?! I saw a mother last week who had just arrived at the grocery store, only to have her entire schedule rearranged because one of her children was acting, shall we say, poorly. Although I didn't like her tone, I felt her pain, and I could not judge. I would be a little p-o'ed too. And not like I haven't from time to time. Son's recently taken up whining...I just want to shoot myself in the head. And now that son's grasping the time-out concept, mommy's had her fair share (well, so has Blue Bear and Baby, come ot think of it).

In a few weeks, maybe a month tops, my cover should be complete, and no one will know I'm a poser. Well, except husband and son and anyone else who reads this...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Grudging Domesticity

I'm not sure how or when I suddenly turned into the domestic goddess I am now becoming. And, quite frankly, it's a little alarming, since I'm not actually trying that hard. I've completely ditched any attempts at creating a "clutter-free" home (the word itself nauseates me), and yet, I spend random moments "simplifying", finding ways to either reuse something we already have or just finding it a home where it will become someone else's problem. Freecycle's pretty awesome if you're looking to get rid of crap. I don't think I've managed to actually get anything yet (a little slow on the email-draw, it appears).

I forgot to mention that we are going on our second week TV-free. It's hard to believe it's only been two weeks, since it seems like more, which is probably a good reason to get rid of it - we were spending so much time in front of it that we now have all this time to do other things. I observed two days into our cold-turkey TV detox that now I had all this time to clean, and promptly began scurrying about like a chicken with her head cut off - thus proving that my own addiction was just as bad as son's.

I decided to start making bread, from scratch. Mostly to save money, as we've now discovered that we're more poor than we were in the military, despite higher wages. In any case, I found a recipe entitled "No Knead, Dutch Oven Bread" and promptly set out to make it, after spending an entire Sunday kneading, rising, kneading, rising, poking, and prodding two loaves of bread (that turned out deliciously, I might add). Aside from the fact that this was really an experiment and something was bound to go wrong (got a little dark, or, as some might say, burnt), it turned out well. So tonight, I whipped up another, and it's a-rising.

And then, there was Monday, when I decided the kitchen needed to be scrubbed from top to bottom. It was really bizarre, since I hate cleaning, and actually had no intention of doing anything of the sort, other than loading the dishwasher and wiping down the counters. It was a good thing, though, because whoa, nelly! Things had gotten a tad groady, and since I'm clearly not obsessive in the least, it was probably really nasty. Since husband does the dishes most nights (a deal I worked out, since I make most meals), he was impressed and now makes sure it remains as clean as possible.

On Saturday, I decided to scope out a few stores I had heard about in the Southeast side, and happened upon a little consignment shop, snagged some wicker laundry baskets (one which smelled like cigarette smoke, yuck, which I didn't realize until the drive home, arg) and used two of the many flannel baby blankets we were given to create a nice little insert for one of them. So, yay, we now have a decent, inexpensive laundry basket. I've devised a plan to get the smell out of the other one, but there's no telling if it will work.

I suppose it was inevitable, with all this time at home I'd learn a few things, put them to use and actually become a decent, dare I say it?...homemaker. I shudder at the thought. I guess it's better than 'freeloader'.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Moving and making other life changes

One main reason for the recent and prolonged blog-silence is that we made a major move. A huge shift. Husband is now unshackled from the military, and son is learning more words than I can even keep track of, much less understand.

It's amazing how one settles into old routines once the dust settles. I had been allowing son to watch TV (always PBS or movies) so that I could get other things done, but have come to the conclusion that I have done quite a bit a harm (hopefully reparable), and have had to crack down. This, of course, comes with the standard withdrawal symptoms, which in a toddler are equally as unpleasant as they would in an adult...or, arguably more so because of the tantrums in which he throws himself onto the floor and wails (all the while looking at me as though I've betrayed his heart) or bangs his head against the wall. I have expected this, so I'm not entirely surprised, nor am I completely uncompassionate. We headed out to the park today, and of course, it started to rain. So I thought we might detour and see if the horses were out, which, of course, they weren't. My attempts to lure him into tower-building or book-reading were not successful. In the end, I'd just hold him in my lap, let him have his cry out, and eventually, let him dig through a box of junk that hasn't been sorted through in the month and a half since we moved in.

I recently finished reading Jim Trelease's The Read-Aloud Handbook, which makes a good case for the TV crack-down and my becoming a bit of a dictator about it. I've started to realize that I watch too much tv as well...and then when midnight roles around and I've finished getting my Daily Show/Colbert Report fix, I'm up reading...sorry Jon and Stephen...I love you, but I need sleep. So here I am, writing about it instead of watching, go figure. In any case, the TV is about two steps away from being out the door. We may have to go cold-turkey.

I've also begun to be a bit of an activist...I decided to support Ron Paul, even though it's certain he won't win. Normally, I like to have opinions, but keep them to myself or, at the very least, share them with like-minded others. But on this point, I cannot be more firm: at least check out what he has to say.

Anyways, bed and book call.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mommy Malaise

As you can see, I haven't been keeping up with this blog as I had intended to. The last three weeks have been pretty hellacious. Husband is on his final deployment before getting out of the military, and it was more depressing that any of the other times. There were days when son was eating chicken nuggets or macaroni and cheese. Not that he minded - he loves chicken nuggets.

So, two days till husband arrives, I'm going to have to do some mad cleaning because I've kind of let the house go - and he's more of a neat freak than I am (but not too much of one) and would probably not like coming home to a house that looks like it's been ransacked. Yup, by a toddler no less. Need ransacking done, call us. Son will have house turned upside down in less than an hour.

In an attempt to set some order around here, I started implementing discipline, but then it became this push-pull relationship, and I would begin to wonder if it's worth the fight. So, attempts at not being a pushover mom are thwarted by my own thinking. Or laziness. It's anyone's call at this point.

In an attempt to get my site a little more interesting, I've added some new links (check out the Ovulation Calendar - not just for those who want a baby!) and finally put up the least objectionable photo of myself. It's a little old, since I will not put up photos of me in my pajamas and unwashed hair, and those seem abundant, strangely enough. But, I assure you, you're not missing much by not seeing them!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Mommy Makeovers?

I received a news email from a feminist group I'm a part of, which included a link to an article about a clinic in LA that does what they call "Mommy Makeovers." I couldn't help myself and I went directly to the website. There were client stories, including before and after photos. After choking down my gag reflex, I felt really sad.

Sad because I know how these women feel. Sad because they bought into the lie. Sad because I sometimes get sucked into believing the lie. Sad that we, as women, are still looking to men to define us, fix us. Sad that there are men who have also bought the lie, and are naively thinking they are helping us.

I'll admit that when I'm without son, I feel fatter, schlumpy. No, make that downright frumpy. With son, I feel as though I have a badge that proclaims to everyone "This is my excuse for not being thinner, more put together, more easy on the eye."

I stopped all inflow of media into my house that I knew would make me feel insecure. No fashion magazines, not even under the guise that it's the "artistry" involved. No regular television programming. No fitness magazines, I know how to exercise. Nothing. And with this preemptive action, I cut my insecurity in half. And, am saving myself money to boot.

Then, under the guise of health and wanting to keep up with son, I head to the gym, and become a little more self-conscious, although perhaps that's because of the beefy military guys who hang out there for hours (I swear!), who I know are checking me out because they are desperate for anything at this point (so husband says). I pretend like I own the place and do my thing.

I lost 8 lbs in one day last week. I got gastritis and basically shat out the contents of my stomach, intestines... It took me an entire 5 days to recover. I gained 3 lbs back, but I'm not too upset about that. More alarming is the fact that I'm not as bummed about missing a week of working at the gym, or the pain of a chapped butt for that matter, because the payoff was weight loss.

I've started to see beauty in many of the women around me. Normal women. Women who Hollywood and NYC Fashion wouldn't so much as glance at. Low-hanging breasts. Wide hips. Hairy armpits. Left-over baby pooch. All strong. All beautiful.

I had stretch marks long before I got pregnant, the result of a major growth spurt during puberty. I had long figured there was nothing I could do about them, so I never worried. I got more on my belly late in the pregnancy. They've turned silver now, along with the rest, but I can feel the bumps. They are my rite of passage. First into womanhood, then into motherhood. In a society that has little ritual for such rites of passage, I'll take them. They are mine. They are what separates the girls from the women, the women from the men. No Mommy Makeover for me.

ARRR! I am Mother, hear me roar!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Brain Drain

So, lately I've sort of been randomly posting without any regularlity, after a good start, and realized that I need to make a decision to actually stick with this or let it fall into mismanagement like other blogs I've visited. The latter is definitely not appealing.

One would think that as a mother, I'd have a daily supply of things to blog about, but apparently, these things are more of a brain drain than anything. I suppose I could lower my standards and write about the latest and greatest achievement of son. I suppose as he grows and supplies me with many profound statements, I will likely have more fodder. Alas, such a task for a little one.

Husband and I have been discussing (negotiating, really) having another child. The way I figure it, I have one, my life is pretty much not my own, so what's one more? Heck, what's two more? Ok, let's not jump there just yet. At the same time, we are in such a huge period of transition, now is not the right time to be preggers. Husband, on the other hand, is more nonchalant about it. Aren't they always? I sometimes wonder if men would be less willing to knock us up if they actually experienced pregnancy and childbirth first hand.

There will definitely not be another child while son is still in diapers. Nope, not doing it. I would be washing diapers all day, every day. With son almost two years old, I imagine that by the time we do get around to cooking the next bun in the oven, he'll be close to being toilet learnt. Here's hoping anyways.

Two will be brain drain supersized. At that point, will the Mommy brain will have laid down roots, with only remnants of my former self buried deep beneath them? I struggle to maintain some semblance of an identity, both as a mother, but also as the woman I was before motherhood. How does anyone do it without becoming institutionalized?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Family Traditions

I've been thinking a lot about family traditions a lot lately, in part because I've taken it upon myself to ensure an organized family gathering at Christmas (a project I love, by the way). The questions du jour: which ones to I want to pass on? Will I be throwing the baby out with the bathwater by not participating in some because of their religious and/or commercial aspects?

My favorite holiday is Christmas. Or perhaps I should say "was". As a child, the busyness of this season excited me more than any gifts I received, and I relish the idea of Christmas baking. There were advent wreaths, school and church plays, caroling, yummy food, staying up late playing all kinds of games or just busting with laughter with my siblings over some trivia we had learned from a game we had played. And, there was a spiritual aspect - the idea of this small being, born to change the world (well, common terminology is "save", but I have little use for that).

So, even today, I get excited. When I was stationed overseas with the Navy, I missed out on spending Christmas in any sort of meaningful way. Then, I got married, and we had our own little traditions (that were somewhat commercialistic and selfish, to be sure). Now that son is in the picture, and every action and inaction has such a huge meaning, I need to reframe traditions in terms of our little family.

My first response is to have nothing to do with them altogether. In part, because I no longer share the faith that gives them deep meaning, but also because they have been bastardized and create want or excess (depending on where you are in the economic spectrum).

My second response is to create new ones by discovering the roots of my old ones. It is my understanding that many of the christian holidays were adaptations of pagan ones, and so I am on a quest to discover the true meaning behind such holidays as Christmas, Halloween, and Easter. We did not celebrate Halloween growing up, I never really understood it. I also never understood the relationship between eggs, rabbits and Easter, either, since my family's tradition was strongly religious. Apparently both rabbits and eggs have to do with fertility, and Easter is in the spring, before everything gets fertile and starts growing. Who knew?

Because I understand that traditions and celebrations make our lives meaningful, I seek to include them in my life - they are also fun for children, with all the crafts and songs and stuff (which apparently I haven't outgrown!). So, like myself, my child, my family, ever evolving, I suppose that our family traditions will also evolve over time.