Sunday, October 12, 2014

30 Things Series #30: 10 Things For Which I Hope to Be Remembered

This is it. This is the final installation of the 30 Things My Son Should Know About Me series. I'm so very glad I've written this all down for my son to read some day. Thinking of what he'll think when he does makes me smile and cringe equally. Knowing that he'll come away from it knowing me better so that we can know each other better makes me warm.

So, for the last time, I give to you:

10 things I would hope to be remembered for.

In no particular order:

1) being a good mom
2) being a good teacher
3) being a good activist
4) my willingness to try new tasks
5) doing what was right instead of what was easy
6) being good in a crisis/emergency
7) having a good work ethic
8) my intelligence
9) my willingness to change what I know is faulty about me, my thought processes, my values, etc.
10) my big laugh

I was going to expound upon each, but the great thing about this series is that, I think, if you've read them all along with knowing me throughout the years, you probably understand each one thoroughly anyway and without my explanation.

My sweet, if after reading these 30 posts, you take nothing more away from them than "I love you a million times infinity" then I have done my job, because I do. I love you. A million times infinity.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

30 Things Series #29: My Hopes and Dreams for My Prosperity

This is the penultimate post in the 30 Things My Son Should Know About Me series and it's one of the stranger, in my opinion. Perhaps the person who came up with the questions valued different things than I. Here we are, though, and here I go.

What are my hopes and dreams for my prosperity?

This is an odd question to me. I don't really care much about prosperity in the conventional way. I mean, money is great, but it's not much more to me than a way to pay bills and get us gas money as we travel and create memories. Wealth would certainly make things easier in those departments, but otherwise, I mean, I've never wanted a big house, a fancy car, or a bunch of designer clothes. I don't care about stuff for the sake of having stuff and I don't care about keeping up with the Joneses.

If I suddenly came into a bunch of cash, the first thing we'd do with it would be to pay off our student loans, our oppressive, oppressive student loans. (What are student loans, you ask? Never fear, we will never allow you to know of such things for yourself, but that's for another post.)

If your dad got a huge raise, we'd finish upgrades on our current small home, buy a small commuter car for your dad to drive without taking up as much gas during his two hour daily commute, and we'd put more into savings. I mean, that's really it.

I don't dream about being conventionally prosperous. Prosperity to me would be having a collection of memories, but we're collecting those anyway, without a lot of money and things. I want to be rich in kisses and hugs and love and laughs and beyond that, I'm not really interested in the things money can buy us, because money will never get us anything as valuable as what we already have. I'm not blowing smoke up anyone's butt here, either. I'm not saying what I think I'm supposed to say. I've never cared much about stuff and things. I've always cared more about going places, doing things, taking pictures, enjoying the world instead of worldly things.

So, my hopes and dreams for my prosperity? Does hoping we're all safe, happy, healthy, and together for the rest of our very long lives count?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Review: Sea Sponge "Tampons"

If you've been around long enough, you know that I've been on a quest to find the ultimate period product. Pads blow. I stopped using pads on about my second cycle when I was 13. The mess is just more than I can handle. Tampons were my go-to from then until my mid-20s when I discovered the Instead cup, which I used off and on. For the first few days postpartum, I used Depends. Yes, really. I went back to tampons when I felt comfortable, but was never again comfortable with the toxins I was putting into such a sensitive area of my body. The Diva Cup came to my attention. Read that, um, adventure HERE. I would've stuck with that for the rest of my menstruating years, but it wasn't to be. I thought maybe I could handle cloth pads. I was wrong. Still with the mess! Finally, I landed on sea sponge "tampons." I put the tampon part in quotes, because of a recent FDA ruling that says they can no longer be referred to as tampons, but many know them as such, so I didn't want to leave out the word. Without trying to jinx anything, I think I may have found my new quicker picker upper.

I ordered Jade & Pearl's Premium Ultra Soft Multi-Pack so that I could comfortably use them for the duration of each cycle. Unlike the Diva Cup, there was no learning curve. I watched the recommended video first. I followed the directions for soaking before the initial use. I recently started my period and all I had to do was rinse, squeeze, twist, and insert. So easy. No swearing or yelling involved.

Like some of the other reviewers said, I have noticed an issue with leaking post-urination. J&P recommends leaning forward to pee to direct the urine away from the sponge. Tried this. Hasn't worked so far. It's really only an issue for me if I sneeze. [Insert a little snark-face here.] It's not enough to discourage me from using them. Though I don't normally wear undies, I'll buck up and wear them for 3 days during my period while using the sponges. The risk of a sneeze-pee is worth the benefit of the super period product to me.

There you have it. Sea sponges in the vadge. Who knew? Thanks Jade & Pearl!

Breastfeeding in Seven Sentences

I had no qualms, no concerns, about breastfeeding. I had every confidence in my body, myself, and my babe.

Thank goodness for a good IBCLC, because things didn't turn out to be quite so easy for us. The hospital staff was atrocious - pushing formula hard, shaming and guilting me for not giving it, walking out on me when I asked for help.

Two visits with Jollina, our IBCLC, the introduction of a nipple shield and voila! Next month it'll be four years of breastfeeding for us. Boobs are rad.

Friday, September 19, 2014

30 Things Series #28: My Favorite Quality in My Spouse

Today's installation of the 30 Things My Son Should Know About Me series comes in the form of a quick note on the quality of your dada's that I like best.

"Dada, I want to paint YOU."
"Let's do it, pal!"
Your dada is pretty darn great about just rolling with all the things you want to do. It's fabulous. You want to cover him from head to toe with stickers? "No problem," says Dada. Need a horsey ride after he's worked and commuted to two jobs for a total of 17 hours that day? "You got it, Bud," Dada replies as he assumes the position. Feeling the need to get out some pent-up energy in the form of rough-housing? "Bring it, bro," is his response. He'll do absolutely anything for you.

Yes, there are times when this bothers me. I do think he cares more about being liked than about doing the right thing from time to time, but overall, I adore how much he adores you.

He's up for anything you want to do with or to him (usually much to my amusement) and I find that incredibly endearing. You do, too, I know, because there are the other moments when you want nothing more than to lie on the couch next to him or just be near him, wherever he is. The love you two share is a beautiful thing. I am completely taken by both of you separately and together.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

30 Things Series #27: My Favorite Part of My Body

Some of these 30 Things My Son Should Know About Me topics are rough. Some are a cinch. This one is the latter.

Which of my body parts is my favorite? Easy. My boobs.

shirt by Made By Momma
owned and proudly worn by me
This was not always the case. My boobs used to be the bane of my existence. I went from wearing no bra to wearing a large bra that just kept getting larger every year in no time. My boobs were always bigger than all the other girls'. My nipples are flat and used to make me very self-conscious, because they didn't look "normal" when compared to the other girls in the locker room. Changing into a sports bra for volleyball was uncomfortable, to say the least. Shopping for prom dresses sucked, because nothing fit - I was so much bigger at the top than at the bottom. Everything had to be altered. I busted out of everything in which the other girls looked so cute. Boobs sucked.

The comments were never-ending. They didn't come from my peers, as one would imagine, though. The boys at school didn't gawk or say anything, at least not that I knew of. The girls weren't ever outwardly jealous or mean. No, the comments came from my family members. And they were frequent. My step-sister is 12 years older than me. She never stopped commenting. Ever. Ev-er. At my great-grandmother's funeral, a cousin of my mom's came up and out of the blue started talking about my boobs to my mom as if I wasn't standing right there beside them. My step-uncle made his fair share of inappropriate comments regarding my chest. Once, when I was visiting my grandparents for the summer, I went to a friend's house for church. Before we left, I was called home by my grandmother who just couldn't bear the thought of me being out in public with my boobs "out" the way they were. The body-shaming was ceaseless and it got inside my head big time. My mom was the only one who never shamed me for my breasts. I always say she's the only "little boob" who understands the plight of the "big boob." It's one of the things I've most appreciated in her over the years. Thank goodness for her, because mostly boobs sucked.

I went through many years wanting a breast reduction. I stopped short of heading to the plastic surgeon's office every time, because I knew I wanted to breastfeed and I didn't want anything to potentially prevent that. (Yes, I know some can breastfeed post-reduction, but some can't and I wasn't willing to take that chance.) Making such a drastic change to my body in my teens and 20s seemed, well, drastic, so I put it off and put it off. I still thought, though, that boobs sucked.

Ultimately, I'm glad I did, because my boobs have turned out to be my favorite body part. Yes, I like the way they look, the softness they add to my body (which didn't used to be as soft as it is now), but mostly, I like what they can do. These mondus things on my chest have the ability to nourish and strengthen, comfort and coddle, care for and protect another human being. That's some amazing stuff! For nearly four years, I've been able to soothe hurt feelings, relieve broken skin, and shoo away boogeymen of all sorts just with my boobs. Those are some powerful things. Boobs are rad!

I have never felt more womanly and strong as I have since I've become a breastfeeding mother. My body is incredible. I love my boobs. I'm grateful for my boobs. Got a negative comment about them? Ain't nobody got time for you. Luckily, the person whose opinion truly matters, you, my sweet boy, thinks my boobs are pretty special, too.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

30 Things Series #26: What Popular Notion Do I Think the World Has Most Wrong?

Now, here's a post from the 30 Things My Son Should Know About Me series that I could write on all day, but I'll try to keep it as brief as I can.

I was going to pick circumcision, but since the question was what the world had wrong and 91% of the world's men are intact, I had to go global, thus had to go with another incorrect notion. For the record, I think this "popular" (it's not even that popular, since 65% of the boys now born in the U.S. are being left intact) notion in the U.S. is what we have most wrong.

Worldwide, I think the notions that fear equals respect, that you have to hurt in order to get that mistaken respect, and that spanking (one of the things that garners said mistaken respect) is not the same as hitting are those the world has most backwards.

Want to know what being slapped, spanked, screamed at, intimidated, threatened, roughly grabbed and pushed, and otherwise treated unkindly did to me? It gave me a fear of being caught, of getting in trouble, of those in positions of authority. It didn't teach me a damn thing other than that I couldn't trust the person doing those things. I didn't learn to make good decisions. I learned to get sneakier and more manipulative. I recall once when I was an older teen, this person came at me with the clear intent to hit me. I fell back onto my bed and began wildly kicking. There was no way in hell I was going to be hit again. No way. This was the first time I had ever defended myself, though, and it resulted in two things: a major grounding (what was new?) and never being hit again. The rest still occurred, but I was never again struck. There is so much left to be said here, but I'll let you work it out on your own.

I once wrote a blog post called "Hitting is Hitting is Hitting." (Click HERE to see it.) I wrote it because a great many in our world seem to be of the mistaken belief that there is a difference between different kinds of hitting, that some hitting is OK, while others cross some imaginary line they've made up in their heads and that differs for every person, thus nullifying the notion of the line in the first place. I wrote it because a great many in our world seem to be of the mistaken belief that because they were mistreated and they didn't, I don't know, die or end up in foster care as a result, they're fine and should then give their own kids the "fine" upbringing they were given. I wrote it because it needed to be written. People need to be shaken out of their own comfort zones every once in a while. People need to have a mirror held up to them sometimes. People need to be given food for thought. More than anything, though, I wrote it because I believe in standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. I guess it was my adult version of kicking wildly at those who needed to know that the pain they inflict on others would no longer be tolerated.

I hear a few things about this all the time:
- "I got spanked and I'm glad. I'm now in college and I credit the discipline my parents gave me for that. I'll spank my kids for sure."
- "My nephew isn't spanked and he's a menace. He could use a good pop."
- "You're what's wrong with the world. If more parents spanked their kids, we wouldn't have the disrespectful, criminal delinquents running around that we have nowadays."
- "My kids don't listen when I yell, so I have to spank them."
- "Well, what if your kid is going to run out into traffic? Wouldn't you spank them then? It's for their own good."
- and so much more...

What crap. I know, I know, I could be more tactful, but sometimes I just don't want to. It's crap. It just is. All of it. Study after study after study tells us that it's crap. Cognitive dissonance allows people to shut out the information presented, though, same as it will here, but their disbelief of the cold, hard facts doesn't make their beliefs on this topic less crappy. And sure, they can find others who will back them up. In fact, sadly, they can find a majority to back them up. Doesn't mean it's not crap. Following along in the path of the majority doesn't mean you're a critical thinker - generally, it means quite the opposite.

Let me tell you about a former student of mine, Kevin. Kevin was a pain in my butt. Seriously. Pain. Yes. Mmm hmmm. He was. Dude. I cannot even tell you. Anyway, I treated him with respect regardless of his behavior, because that's what's right. Every once in a while, I'd see a flicker of something amazing in him. Just a flicker, but it was enough to keep me going with him. I saw something. We once had a parent-teacher conference with all his teachers, his counselor, his mother, and himself. He was failing nearly everything and almost all of us had the same thing to say about his behavior. Kevin had been quiet through the whole conference, which was unusual for him. At one point, his mom turned to him to ask him to explain himself. He continued in his silence. All of a sudden, she hit him. She spanked him a few times, yelling for him to talk. My heart raced. I looked to the more senior members of the faculty to say something. No one did. (My guilt for not standing up to her then is for another blog.) The conference ended and I went back to my room to consider what I had just experienced and what I would do from there. While I always treated Kevin with a distant respect, from that point forward, I treated him with more warmth in addition to respect. That was all it took. From then on, Kevin and I got on great. I mean great. I would've left him in charge of the classroom if I had to step out. That's how much things changed. I understood him, I felt. And I feel like he knew that. I couldn't change what was happening to him at home, but I was able to change my behavior and it was a lesson to me that just a little love and understanding had the power to garner a greater respect than could any violence or ugliness.

I could cite studies and list facts here. If I were writing this for the masses, I would. I'm writing this for you, though, sweetheart, and I if I've done my job properly, I don't need to tell you even as much as I have here. If I've done my job well, you'll continue to find yourself questioning why the kid in the grocery store is getting hit for touching the candy at the check-out stand and maybe you'll even stand up and say, "No more." I have full faith in your ability to think critically. I have full faith in your ability to not only recognize right from wrong, but then do the right and stand up for it, too. If I'm not mistaken, by just being the amazing person you are and continue to become, you are changing the world. Keep it up. I love you.