Wednesday, March 5, 2014
As a new mom, this was disheartening on several levels. I love my son and I can't imagine our life without him now. He's given us more structure, more happiness, and he's given me a massive amount of purpose.
But satisfaction? What about satisfaction?
I suppose it depends greatly on your situation, but yes. Satisfaction. There is nothing quite like being pregnant and knowing that you and your husband have created something that's perfect, tiny, and changing at an astounding rate. Yeah, I was sick, and yeah, being pregnant was a pain towards the end, but who cares? I was creating a life. For me, that was enough. Maybe I'm weird, but pregnancy was one of the most magical, strange, and wonderful times for me. I couldn't bend over, but I could feel Liam. He was as close to me as he'll ever be and I felt the stirrings of this motherness that's come to
define my days now.
After he was born, I told Peter, "I don't know why anyone would ever choose to go through that more than once." It was hard. People be like, "Birth is a beautiful thing!" and yeah, it is. But it's also ugly, hard, painful, drawn out, and hard. I know I already said that one. But it bears repeating. I know my body was made to have children and all that, but yeesh. Pain meds are pretty much the best invention ever. And those first few weeks were brutal. I didn't sleep well, Liam didn't poop well, Peter was exhausted and overwhelmed with work and taking care of me.
But there were moments. He was a tiny person who needed us. Not just anyone -- us. He needed me. He needed his daddy. He is my child and with that comes this overwhelming feeling of, "Oh, oh. He is Peter's and he is mine and he is here."
Those incredibly long mornings and nights where he was waking up every 3 hours aren't something I care to repeat, but you can't compare the sort of bond he and I have now. He cries and I can call to him from the other room, "Liam! It's okay!" and he knows I'll come. He's come to trust me and that is terrifying and wonderful.
All of parenthood is that, I think: terrifying and wonderful.
In the beginning, all he really did was sleep. We compared his features to ours: he has Peter's ears, my eyebrows and hairline, Peter's toes, expressions, and eyes. He got my tiny lips and long fingers and, we discovered a few weeks ago, he has Peter's embouchure. (Delight!)
The strangest thing about all of this is that sometimes, I'll be changing Liam's diaper or talking with him or just watching him and he'll do something that just overwhelms me with love for him -- and for Peter.
I expected to love Liam more than I could imagine. People tell you about that part. But I didn't know that having a baby would change how I felt about Peter.
Liam is half me and half Peter. (Well, maybe since he's a boy he's more Peter.) I can't look at him without seeing how clearly he is like his daddy. I can't see that without loving Peter more than I already do.
I think that's the secret that most people are missing. Yeah, having children is hard. You sacrifice a lot, you put your life on hold, you change your plans. You can't go on spur of the moment vacations as well and even going to the grocery store is a challenge. (And when you do get to go alone, you take longer than strictly necessary because it is so nice to be by yourself.) But you also love your children more than you thought possible, but you also love your spouse more because of them.
That's the secret. Kids make you love your partner more.
I don't know how to explain it beyond that. Something happens when you see the child that you and your husband have created and it's this strange, wonderful, scary thing that you made a person, that you're responsible for him, that you need to teach him and stimulate him with multiple colors and textures as a child and worry about feeding and allergies and vaccinations and all of those other things that make up the maze that is parenting.
That part is overwhelming.
But the giggles? The ribs on my son that bow out just like my husband's?
Seeing Peter in Liam makes me wish he was home from work all the time. I want to hold both of them closer because of it. I love Peter more because of Liam.
I watch Peter with Liam and my heart just melts. I love him more because he's a father. I love him more because we made this tiny person together. Because he is ours.
People tell you to be careful because you will love your baby more than anything in the world. They're not quite right; you'll love your baby more than you thought possible, yes, but it deepens the love you already have for your husband.
I remember asking my dad if us being born was the happiest day of his life. He told me no. "Marrying your mom was." Did he love us most? No. "I love your mom most." I was reassured and bothered by that as a child, but I understand now. He loved my mom more because of us, not in place of us.
And I love Liam more than anything, more than anyone -- except Peter. I can't love Liam without loving Peter more. In some strange parental calculus, that's the truth: having children enriches the love you already have.
Liam still sleeps best when one of us is holding him. He still wakes up in the middle of the night sometimes. He still cries. But he is my son. He is our son.
That is the most satisfying thing of all.
Sunday, February 16, 2014
God might be all-knowing, but that doesn't mean everyone listens to Him, not even his angels.
Friday, April 6, 2012
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Sometimes I wish I had a mental disorder. Y'know, a cool one. Like Dissociative Identity Disorder. Or being bipolar. Or having temporal lobe seizures so I could have auditory hallucinations.
First, let me just state that I am perfectly aware how irrational, bizarre, and downright disconcerting it is for me to want these. Please don't think I'm being unkind or purposefully treating these diseases lightly; I know they deserve respect and concern and most of all, a deep understanding and dedication to helping those that have them. That doesn't change the fact that,
Second, the only real reason that I want some of these is the benefits that,
Third, SO many authors seem to have reaped.
Take Virginia Woolf. Gustave Flaubert. Tolstoy. Dostoevsky. Lewis Carroll. Dickens, Tennyson, Poe, Scott, Dante, Moliere!
They all had some form of a mental disorder. I have to admit that I'm particularly fascinated by the manic-depressive stages of the bipolar disorder. Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath were both incredibly manic and incredibly depressive throughout their entire lives and their writing is so incredible.
This leads me to my (acknowledged) erroneous conclusion: those with mental disorders are automatically better writers, artists, and more creative in every way, shape, and form. Picasso had a mental disorder; Van Gogh did, too. Look at the huge contributions they've made!
Really, the message that I should take from these is that artists who manage to struggle past the smothering blanket of depression and the giddy, irresponsible, frightening highs of mania, who move beyond their auditory hallucinations and seizures and write despite it, write to thwart it, write because it is the only thing holding them to reality -- I should only respect them and be glad I am not one.
But sometimes I envy that passion, that burning need to write. (It's called hypergraphia -- interesting article there.) Sometimes I wish writing was my one true lifeline so I would pour more of myself into it. Sometimes I wish it was the only thing about my life that seemed real, that "I could not stop...sensations outside of language dried up: music became irritating discord, the visual world grew faint."
Caveat: again, I don't think I actually want that, but the romance of it is strong.
Which leads me to the book that led me to all of these thoughts in the first place: The Midnight Disease by Alice W. Flaherty. She is a neurologist writing about creativity, writer's block, and why some people NEED to write and others don't. I'm not incredibly far in, but so far it's a fascinating, scientific, and relatable read.
Sunday, October 9, 2011
During the "Eat" portion of the novel, the author is in Italy. What better place to eat, right? But as she gets to know the Italian people and their culture, she finds that there is a lot more to Italy than first appears. The people there are relaxed, calm, and happy with their lives. They find excuses to slow down and enjoy their food, make better food, and spend time with their families. To Italians, family and relaxing are the most important things. You take care of yourself and your family first and everything else is secondary.
Unsurprisingly, I really like that idea, but only partly because it involves lots of food and down time. Since Elizabeth Gilbert planted the thought in my head, I've come to realize more and more how obsessed Americans are with their jobs.
When you first meet someone, what questions do you ask them? Most getting-to-know-you conversations go something like this:
Person 1: What's your name?
Person 2: Jennifer. What's yours?
Person 1: Bob. Nice to meet you.
Person 2: Nice to meet you, too. So, Bob, what do you do?
Person 1: I work in the construction industry. Paving roads, building hotels, that sort of thing.
Person 2: That sounds like really rewarding work.
Person 1: Oh, it is. What do you do?
Person 2: I'm an administrative assistant at a legal firm.
Person 1: Wow, a legal firm! I could never do that.
And the conversation focuses on work for a large portion. I'm not saying this is a bad thing, just trying to illustrate that much of our initial introduction to someone new revolves around their vocation.
I don't know how that conversation would go in Italian, but I can tell you how I wish it went. I wish we would ask about names (that's a good thing to know) and then actually get to know the person. We have this strange idea in America that whatever a person does for work must be their All Consuming Passion and we construct personalities around that occupation. He's in construction? Definitely a well-meaning, slightly unintelligent person who probably spent a great amount of his childhood with Legos and Tinker Toys. How many of you, when you read "construction industry" didn't automatically have that feeling that he was probably less intelligent than Jennifer? How many of you thought, "Oh, she won't be sexually attracted to him because he's in the construction industry. He's probably got a mullet" or some other stereotypical-construction-worker thought? I'll admit, I had one. All because of his job?
Off of that, when you tell someone that you work in a job that doesn't make much money (for example, author/painter/musician/singer/dancer), your self-worth in their eyes actually shrinks. Not that they think you're less of a person, but that you are a fool for pursuing something that provides neither financial stability nor is a "real career". Even if they like you, there is still that niggling fear that you will become the person who needs to be supported by friends because your latest painting didn't sell and your rent is due and please, Jennifer the Legal Assistant, could you loan me $2,000?
I suppose that only goes to prove that it isn't so much your career, but the money you have, that is the defining factor in some relationships. We don't judge our friends based on money -- but if you had a friend who was constantly in need of money, wouldn't you rather they took the back burner? We're incredibly selfish with our hard-earned money because WE are the ones who earned it. If that's not the American dream in action, I don't know what is.
I know I sound incredibly pessimistic here, but I'm not suggesting a departure from intelligent money-saving and -sharing. I'm just as selfish with my money as anyone else (maybe even more). Be careful with your money. The end.
It's fascinating that money from work is the Most Important thing to American culture. Your worth revolves almost solely around how much money you make, whether or not you've received promotions, and if you have a job at all. If you don't have a job? You're automatically (and perhaps semi-unconsciously) labeled no-good, lazy, and a mooch. Maybe not as much in this current economical state, but everyone still sort of shakes their head at you if you don't have gainful employment.
Now we've all seen Click, that Adam Sandler movie, and we all know that work SHOULDN'T be the most important thing. But, and this is the point of my post, what if your work forces you to have it be the most important thing?
Let me tell you what's happened this past month.
One month ago: Peter gets an assignment from a higher up who we will call M. Don't get any Bond aspirations; I'm currently full of angst toward her. M wants an application in a month that does These Specific Things. Peter says, "Will do!" and starts working.
One week ago: M contacts Peter and asks how it's coming. Pretty well, thanks. But, M says, could we not write it in Silverlight? (quick departure from the narrative: that would be like asking me, who is fluent in French and English, to write a legal document in Farsi.) Remember how it's due on Friday?
Peter, ever the diligent worker, says that they will do their best. (This despite the fact that he is already really close to being done with the non-Silverlight version. Does she ask? No. Silverlight will look prettier.)
He goes to B&N, buys two humungous Silverlight books and studies his brains out. He has not come to bed before 2 AM for the past week. His cough returns; I start to worry about his health.
Tuesday: He starts to fall asleep tying his shoes, getting dressed in the morning, and once, ever distressing to me, in the car on our way to the store. As a wife, I'm frightened and concerned and want him to come to bed early on Wednesday. I ask; he says he has to finish this one thing and he'll come. "Before 3?" I say. "Maybe 4," he says. It's 11 when I ask. When he finally comes to bed, it's 5:10. "I couldn't figure it out," he says, incredibly frustrated. I go to work at 7 and he sleeps until 10. He's at work until 7 pm. He comes home Thursday and works on the program until 3 AM but he is finally finished. Hallelujah!
Friday comes and goes. He helps a member of his team to work on the back end of the same program. Comes to bed at a decent time.
Then last night happened. He was up ALL NIGHT LONG helping this guy on the back end. Their "due on Friday" really meant "We need it on Sunday" so they were up until 7 AM. He worked on that dang project for 17 straight hours last night and today? He's sick. He could hardly stay awake long enough to eat breakfast this morning and he fell asleep in the shower.
And I am livid.
What gives a company the right to take my husband's health and flush it down the drain? What gives them the right to FORCE him to be a workaholic when he isn't one? Why is it okay for them to give him an incredibly hard assignment and then punish him when he physically cannot complete it? Why is work so important? Why does that application have to be out NOW? Is the world going to end? Is it going to crash the financial stability of the company? NO! Just because some high-up executive with an inferiority complex says it has to be done, the workers have to go night and day to accomplish the task. M, we are not bees and you are most certainly not the queen. It's your fault that I have a sick husband. It's your fault I've had to fall asleep alone for the past week. It's your fault he has headaches and stomachaches and generally feels like crap. It's your fault that now we have to work on getting him better instead of keeping him healthy in the first place by giving him a reasonable time table to accomplish things.
You know what, company? We're moving to Italy. At least they understand that you have to take care of yourself first.
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Molly woke me up, needing to go to the bathroom. Liking my carpet un-peed-upon, we went for an early morning ramble through the avenues of time... er. The grass outside our apartment. We come back in and I decide heck, I'm awake, I'm staying awake. So I brush my teeth and see my birth control sitting on the counter.
And I wonder: why do girls take birth control? Why not boys?
The logic seems fairly sound to me. Males are capable of producing babies at any time -- no off days for periods and they only really have one hormone (to my knowledge) that deals with that. Scientific simplicity.
On the other hand, females are capable of producing offspring only during ovulation and then completely incapable of doing so during their periods. So it seems like you would want to get the lady to not be able to have the baby, since her window is so much shorter. But pregnancy happens outside of those times as well and then whose fault is it? Always the woman's.
(This is not to say that pregnancy is always an unwanted thing. But when it is, especially with unmarried couples, the "blame" seems to rest wholly on the female in the relationship. This might be only in my experience -- I dearly hope it is, for it disturbs me. The reasoning seems to go, "Yes, they had sex, but you can't blame the boy for that. Why wasn't she on the pill?")
It seems to me that men are (almost) entirely excluded from the baby-process. They are necessary to become pregnant, yes, but if you break up with your boyfriend after the fatal act, who is still pregnant for 9 months? and goes through labor? and wakes up in the middle of the night to nurse the baby? etc.
It requires a truly magnificent man who wants to be a father to participate in the care of his wife, the pregnancy induced nightmares, the panic of labor, the nightly waking-up routines, the diapering, the pampering, etc. I admire these men, not only because they are wonderful to their wives but because they are so rare.
I've seen enough men who feel frustrated at a pregnancy and would rather break up with their girlfriend or suggest an abortion than go through the miraculous bonding experience that is childbirth and rearing. If he doesn't want the baby, he can break up with her, take her to the abortion clinic himself, and then walk away. He can hide. If she decides to go through with the pregnancy and he breaks up with her, who bears the marks of the pregnancy? Who deals with the societal shaming?
Now, to be fair on this subject, the married couples who accidentally become pregnant are an entirely different story. My ire focuses mainly on teenage/unmarried pregnancies and the ridiculous men that shirk from an adult responsibility that is at least 50% their doing.
So why this antiquated idea that a woman has to be in charge of everything according to the pregnancy? Yes, it is in her body, but she was never the only person responsible for getting it there. Yes, women are naturally nurturers and have instincts to take care of and protect their young. But why is she the one blamed for unwanted children? Isn't it his fault just as much?
I have never personally experienced these things, but I have friends who have gone through abortions and WHO does it affect markedly? Not the boyfriend. Never him. He's simply glad to have his slate "wiped clean". But the woman mourns that child instinctively, whether or not she agreed to the abortion in the first place. This subject probably deserves a rant of its own.
I doubt we can change these men. (Though while we're working on cloning, science, can we clone some of those paternal emotions and poison the water supply?) So why not make the man responsible for whether or not the pregnancy occurs?
Is it a basic societal sexism that makes us think that the only person in charge of rearing a child is the woman? We ought to know better by now. Truly strong families have involved parents. (No hating to single parents out there -- you guys are amazing.) But a family with an uninvolved father or uninvolved mother? They almost always fall apart. Why let that start with pregnancy?
Give the men the medication that controls whether or not their body produces its natural hormones. That way, when the pregnancy does happen, the man is the one primarily responsible for it. The woman will do the rest, but let's get some of this responsibility over to him, especially if he's one of those anti-baby people.
Nota bene: I am married, unpregnant, and not planning on becoming pregnant any time soon. I have no personal experience as to the involvement of a man in a pregnancy. I'm not a scientist, nor do I have any idea how a male-birth-control would work. It's an interesting concept, though, and one that I think harks back to some sedentary sexism and woman-blaming that is not only archaic but also harmful.
Also, I have no idea what Peter thinks of this, so don't think I'm representing his feelings here. He's still asleep, lucky man.
Friday, September 30, 2011
I think I might deserve the Best Evening award, all thanks to Pedro.
Work was mediocre. I slept in too late and didn't realize -- and when I did realize how late I was, I already had one leg shaved and you just don't leave something like that unfinished. Especially not if you wanted to wear skinny jeans. Then my car was out of gas. Then my department chair wanted me to present something I felt underqualified for. All in all, pretty normal.
Zupas with my favourite Emily lightened (and shocked) things up a bit. She told me a horrible (true) story about how I use too many parentheses to make side comments (ok, she didn't tell me, but I do).
Then I went home. Walked the dog. Went to the library. Got Well of Ascension and I am very excited to read it. As you can doubtless tell. Without my parenthetical commentary, this is a very boring blog, neh?
BUT THEN my darling husband came home.
And suggested a date.
And took me to Barnes & Noble.
And made me buy things.
(To be fair, I resisted very little. This is partly because I've learned I can't resist a determined Peter and partly because hello, it's buying books! With someone telling me it's ok!)
He bought 2 boring programming books. He might like them. But I doubt it.
But my books! Oh, my books! A list, you say? Why, alright. If you insist.
Frankenstein. (Say it all German. One more time. Mmmmmhmm!)
My Antonia. Willa! *dramatic sigh*
Uncle Tom's Cabin.
Heart of Darkness & Other Stories by my favorite Joseph Conrad
And and and and
The Awakening & Other Stories by KATE CHOPIN!
Need I tell you that my Grinch heart grew three times?
No, I thought not.
THEN, as if the books weren't enough, Peter took me to the Asian Star. They're a valet-parking Chinese restaurant, yo, with twinkle lights and bamboo partitions and cushy seats and fish tanks and too many conjunctions!
We got egg rolls.
Sushi. (With eel!) (Even Peter's salmon was good!)
Honey Nectar Pork.
Walnut Shrimp (omggggggggg)
Steamed rice in that adorable little bowl with the spoon slot.
And their fortune cookie quoted the Bible to me.
So now we're home, Peter is programming (I think... He might be playing a game. Who could blame him? Those books are like 7 lbs each!) and as soon as I'm done with this post, I'm going to do nothing but lie on the couch with my dog, read, and occasionally remind Peter what a good husband he is. By poking him. With my toe.
That's true love for ya, folks.