Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Letter to Schmoopy - And now you are three

Dear SchmoopyBoy,

Last night you went to sleep a 2 year old for the last time. Tonight when you go to sleep you will be three. Three! You’ve been my SchmoopyBaby for three whole years! I managed to only cry once today before 7am. It is now not yet 10:30 as I am writing this, and I have cried a good deal more since then (thank goodness my officemate is on travel today).

This morning you woke up early at 5:45am and climbed into my bed. I was already up and getting ready for work downstairs when I heard the pitter-pat of your feet. You wanted to sleep next to me for a while, so I climbed back into bed with you. You are still so deliciously small, and you are so affectionate. Although weaned, you still crave the closeness of my body and are comforted by the feeling of my skin. You placed one hand on the mole on my side, and with the other hand pulled my face towards yours and draped your arm across my body, resting your hand on my arm. Then you drifted back to sleep, breathing deeply into my face. I so wanted to luxuriate in our closeness, while simultaneously feeling the pull of duty… the morning chores – making lunches and taking out the trash… the little kickypants in my belly reminding me “Hey Mom, when you are hungry I am hungry. Get up and eat!” As frequently happens, even in your sleep you read my mind. Something in body language changed and you knew I was considering moving away from you. Your little leg slid on top of mine, your foot resting on my thigh, holding me in place. So I rested next to you a little longer before quietly dragging myself away.

About a half hour after I went downstairs you woke again, this time for the day. You greeted me cheerily when you saw me tidying the play area, and then you spotted the first of the birthday presents I bought for you – a small play kitchen, which your father and I stayed up last night to assemble. You were quite excited and began to play with it immediately. It didn’t make any difference to you that it is a small, inexpensive, flimsy plastic kitchen rather than one of those beautiful, big, wooden kitchens that I drool over. You delighted in opening and closing the oven doors, you took the lids off and on the little pots, and inspected all the utensils. You didn’t mind that there was no actual play food either, and continued to cook and serve blocks and crayons, as you have been doing for as long as you’ve been play cooking and serving.

Tonight when I get home from work we will go to your grandparents’ house, where we will eat pizza and cake with your cousins. You have been asking for birthday cake for a couple of weeks now, so I hope you get your fill tonight.

Happy Birthday, my sweet boy. I love you more and more with every passing day and every passing year.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Cads, Criminals, and the Media

Trigger warning for discussion of rape
Cecily at Uppercase Woman referred me to this excellent article by Kate Harding that critiques the way the mainstream media has been discussing the rape allegations of Dominique Strauss-Kahn as well as the historical coverage of Arnold Schwarzenegger's "groping problem" and latest news of adultery.

I must quote a bit of the Harding article here, because I know a few certain individuals, ehem, you know who you are, that won't bother clicking the link, and I think this is really important:
So, whether Strauss-Kahn is “the great seducer,” for instance, has very little to do with whether he might also be “the great rapist,” because rape is not actually seduction gone pear-shaped. It’s a whole different thing! Similarly, any consensual affairs Schwarzenegger had over the years have very little to do with his “groping problem,” which would probably be better described as “a problem with giving a tiny rat’s ass about consent.”

That’s not to say these things are entirely unrelated, mind you. There are certainly points of overlap between being a cad and being a criminal: An overblown sense of entitlement, an apparent lack of empathy for anyone you might hurt, an erection. But cheating on your wife is not a gateway drug to sexual assault. They are two different things, one of them a crime. If you’re a journalist, please take a moment now to repeat that to yourself a few times.

And then please consider this: A man who’s known for grabbing women’s breasts and asses without their consent (a crime) is not just some amusing, slightly pathetic Pepe Le Pew cartoon until the day someone accuses him of non-consensual penetration. He was actually already a sexual predator! And yet, inevitably, as soon as someone does accuse him of rape, friends who are familiar with his history of non-consensual groping will rush to tell the press that the accusations are absurd, insulting, inconceivable! Sure, everyone knew the lion liked to chase gazelles and pin them down and bat them around a bit for fun, but he would never eat one. That’s just not in his nature.

Do you see the difference? One guy treats women rather shabbily, and he should be ashamed of himself. The other guy treats women like inanimate objects he is entitled to do whatever the fuck he wants to, and he should be ashamed of himself and also held legally responsible for his crimes. The line between the two is really not all that fine or blurry, you guys! It’s actually pretty recognizable!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Who, me? I'm a Versatile Blogger?!

Maria at Life, Loss, and Other Things Worth Mentioning has given me The Versatile Blogger Award! What a surprise and honor! It amazes me that something I started as a hobby to keep my out of town family and friends involved in my life has actually touched the lives of strangers. I am horrendously late at responding to Maria's award and hate to appear ungrateful, so better late than never.

The rules of the award are as follows:
1.Link back to the person/s that gave you the award.
2.Award other bloggers the award-up to 15 recently discovered bloggers.
3.Contact the bloggers that you have awarded to let them know that they have won.
4.Tell 7 things about yourself ( I suppose they should be lesser known facts to the blogworld!)

Seven things about myself:

1. Next week I'm taking my first overnight business trip since before SchmoopyBoy was born and I'm kind of terrified. Excited by the potential for some extra sleep that night, but largely terrified.

2. My son is in the middle of potty training. Consequently, there are dinosaur, Toy Story, and Mickey Mouse underpants ALL OVER my house. Mostly because we keep them in the downstairs bathroom, and it seems like every time he goes in the room he takes at least one pair (if not many) and uses them as fashion accessories (think hats and bracelets mostly) which are later discarded in random places.

3. My son "tried to kill me" before he was born through severe dehydration during the first half of my pregnancy followed by pre-eclampsia at the end. Therefore, I don't feel too guilty indulging in embarrassing details like #2 above. He deserves a little payback, I like to think.

4. We just started trying to grow vegetables in our yard. We have several pots growing tomatoes, onions, broccoli, and a few herbs. So far we haven't killed anything, and in fact our tomato plant has 2 little tomato buds growing!

5. I have a secret (well, not so secret now) pipe dream of turning some of the more successful stories I've made up for SchmoopyBoy into published children's books.

6. I considered writing something about my losses for National Infertility Awareness Week, but couldn't bring myself to do it. I felt hypocritical and insensitive posting while pregnant. I mean, for crying out loud, I recently posted pictures of my pregnant belly, the last thing a woman struggling with infertility needs is to be drawn in by a post for NIAW just to see pregnant belly pictures a couple posts down.

7. I am absolutely awful when it comes to discovering and following new bloggers. I have maybe 10 blogs that I follow reasonably regularly, but I hardly ever comment and hardly ever branch out to discover new blogs that I am probably very interested in reading.

Given what I just wrote in #7 above, I do have a couple of blogs to pass this award to - some of my more recent (but not super recent) discoveries that I like a lot.

TouchstoneZ - I discovered Zioe at TouchstoneZ during the March of Kindness. She's a wonderfully articulate writer about gentle parenting issues - green living, gentle discipline, etc. I also love that she includes her angel baby in her Letters to Littles. I admire her openness and candid talk about her struggles with PPD, a topic with which I am well enough acquainted that sometimes her words are difficult to read because they hit so close to home.

Mama Jorje - I discovered Mama Jorje through the Carnival of Natural Parenting, which I sadly have not participated in for months and months. She was struggling to find balance as a slightly crunchy mama who worked out of the house full time - I could relate all too well! I always find interesting reads on her Sunday Surf posts, and have really been enjoying her Monday Minimalist series. I am married to a big-time hoarder, and have mild hoarding tendencies myself (although I confess it's mostly laziness on my part), so the idea of minimizing can be quite inspiring.

Thanks again to Maria, my apologies for responding so late. Happy reading everyone!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The fluff you were probably hoping to see on M-Day

Mothers Day cards I helped SchmoopyBoy make for his grandmothers. He picked out the colors of the construction paper, tissue paper and pipe cleaners. I helped with the cutting and folding. He selected glitter glue to stick the butterflies on the cards and the stickers. He went to town on the stickers. I wrote "Grandma" and "Oma" (grandma in German) on the cards using the glitter glue stick of his choice.

He really enjoyed making the butterflies and wanted to make more last night. He was feeling a little more confident with the scissors so he cut out a few "squares".

Glitter glue is another big hit. In addition to decorating his new butterflies with glitter glue he's been decorating construction paper with glitter glue a couple times a day for the past couple of days.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Sober Thoughts on Mothers Day

"We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands shall not come to us reeking of carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of
charity, mercy and patience." ~ Julia Ward Howe

Mothers Day in this country was initially proposed as a day for peace activism. Julia Ward Howe wrote her famous Mothers Day proclamation in 1870, being distraught by the death and carnage of the Civil War. She called on mothers to come together and protest what she saw as the futility of their sons killing the sons of other mothers. She called for an international Mothers Day celebrating peace and motherhood. (source)

I want to relate a short story to you. During my first year of graduate school, I had a position teaching College Algebra in the Mathematics department. My first semester, one of my students was an Iraq War veteran. He had a knee injury necessitating his return to the U.S. for treatment. He was completing his service at the local Air Force base and taking classes as his schedule allowed. This war veteran was a kid. Seriously, I don't know if he was even 20 years old. Still baby faced, with clean cut dark blond/light brown hair and blue eyes. Seven years since I taught that class, this boy/man still haunts my memory.

This kid came back from war alive, a fact I'm sure his mother celebrates every day. I imagine my own dark blond/light brown haired and blue eyed son going off to learn to kill or be killed and my stomach absolutely turns.

It's been about 10 years since this country has been at war. How many mothers do not have reason to celebrate this Mothers Day? How many mothers will be spending the day mourning the loss of their children at the hands of war?

Ten years. Ten years!

My next door neighbor has 4 children, between the ages of 5 and 10. None of them have ever known a world without war. How long, I wonder, will it continue?

This year on Mothers Day, I remember the mothers of sons and daughters that are no longer here to celebrate them. May we all live to see peace in our lifetimes, so that our children and the children of all mothers may live to to celebrate all their days.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Things I’ll have to explain to my child one day

what happened on September 11, 2001

who was Osama Bin Laden

what is a nuclear bomb

what is nuclear radiation and what are the dangers of nuclear power plants

what is global climate change and how have we contributed to it

what is/was peak oil and how will/has it changed the world as we know/knew it

what was the Holocaust

who was Hitler

what is slavery and why does it exist today more than ever before in human history

who would celebrate his death because he “has Jewish blood”

who would celebrate his death because he “has Muslim blood”

who would celebrate his death because he “has Christian blood”

who would celebrate his death because he “has Atheist blood”.

At the present time, his family and day-to-day activities are the world he lives in. How long will he live in this bubble of love, protection, and privilege? How do I teach him to navigate a chaotic, violent world and find hope, joy, and peace along his journey?