Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dividing Attention

I don't know about you, but having two kids has been kind of tough on me as a parent. Before Kairi, my youngest, was born, I spent a lot of time with Gracie. We did everything together. We had movie nights where we'd just lay in bed all night watching movies, dance party nights, we did makeovers, all kinds of stuff. I used to take all kinds of pictures of Gracie and basically just showered tons of attention on her.

Since Kairi has been born, I've had to divide my attention, and since Kairi is younger and significantly less independent, she gets the majority of my attention. Most of the pictures I take now are of Kairi, as I'm constantly having to follow her around and make sure she's not getting into stuff, and Gracie is usually off doing her own thing.

Every now and again though, I try to make some time to spend specifically with Gracie. I want her to still feel important. She's been great about not being too jealous of her sister, but she still deserves just as much of my time.

I got some really good shots of Gracie a few nights ago at my sister-in-law's house. I miss taking as many pictures of Gracie as I used to, so it's nice to get some cool, candid shots of her from time to time.

So, friends with multiple kids, what do you do to make sure you've got some one on one time with each child? Do you give them extra attention while one is taking a nap, or split up time between the other parent? Any other suggestions?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Baby Gluton and Our Roles in Society

I'd like to preface this post in saying that yes, I am writing again about breastfeeding, however, this post is not just about breastfeeding. A friend of mine posted a picture of the breastfeeding doll Baby Gluton on his Facebook page and asked, "Any thoughts about this doll, or the appropriateness of this doll, or the appropriateness of subjecting girls to doll toys which may reinforce their place in society at such an early age?"
Baby Gluton, the breastfeeding doll
So far, his post has drawn in a lot of responses. One woman said, "Breastfeeding is a primal human function. It does not place us anywhere in society. My issue is with an advertisement which focuses on childrens breasts."

I agreed, also stating that my children already use their dolls as breastfeeding dolls, as they recognize that as how we feed babies. While I understand and appreciate the idea behind promoting breastfeeding, I don't see the point in the doll. Every doll we have is a breastfeeding doll.

My friend then asked me whether or not I have problems giving my girls dolls to play with. "I do take issue with giving a girl anything that reinforces where society thinks her place in it should be. Girls are more than milk containers and incubators. ... I think females deserve a greater role in life than to be subservient to their man in marriage, and to be a home-school teacher. :)," he said.

"I'm fine with giving my girls dolls to play with. I see no problem in nurturing their want to nurture something else. They also have a play workbench with hammers and nails and screws, etc, Tonka trucks, etc. My girls play Batman and Spiderman.

"I get what you're saying here, sir, in that perhaps by giving girls dolls that we're pressuring them or brainwashing them into thinking that this is what their job will be when they grow up and that it's wrong to think otherwise. I agree to a degree, but I also think that when children are treated with consideration and support and are accepted as what they are and what they want to become, they are less likely to be browbeaten into thinking that they have a "place in society." My girls don't BELONG in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant, but if they choose that path, I will accept them just as much as if they choose to run for President or want to become a firefighter or a teacher or whatever else. I intend to raise them to know and understand that, so no, I see no problem in my girls dolls."

Another notable response in the thread came from a woman who was bothered by the doll:

"This doll infuriates me. Breast feeding is not natural and not everyone can do it. Mom and baby have to learn how to do it, and I know from several girlfriends that the process can be frustrating and draining and maddening. Especially when you've been told your entire life by everyone you know that it is natural. Aside from that, not everyone can do it. There are any number of reasons why some women cannot breast feed. From the anatomical to the practical.. And if your mother and/ or your sisters had issues breastfeeding, the chance that you will have the same or similar issues increases dramatically. For instance, my sister had numerous infections the first two times she tried to breastfeed. So when I got pregnant, I discussed this with both my pediatrician and my ob/gyn. We decided that I probably shouldn't even try. Ultimately, it didn't matter anyway because my milk never came in. So I think giving a doll like this to a child simply reinforces society's expectations and can only lead to incredible disappointment later if she us unable to breastfeed."

For a long time, I've been trying to hold my tongue when it comes to commenting about breastfeeding on Facebook. I've posted about some of the drama that I've encountered there regarding the issue, and while I feel that it is important to try to dispel some of the myths about breastfeeding that cause the most misunderstanding, I also find it incredibly important to hang on to a level of sanity that I can't maintain when faced with that amount of opposition. However, it's comments like these, as well as a few other things that have been said in the past, that will bring me to jump up on my soap box.

"It's not breastfeeding that bothers me in the slightest, nor is it the promotion of breastfeeding. I think that the idea behind it is good, that we as society should be more supportive of breastfeeding than we are - because although everyone says, 'Oh, EVERYONE says you should breastfeed,' when I announced my plans to breastfeed, everyone from my mother to my OB to my friends and co-workers advised against it. 'It's hard! It's gross! It hurts!' I heard every excuse in the book for why I shouldn't do it, while only two people told me that they thought it was a good idea.

We tout the health benefits for both mother and child, but when it comes down to the nitty gritty, we're all perfectly okay with not doing it. 'It's great for you, but so is exercising and we all know how often we actually make it to the gym.'

I get that there are a lot of women who can't - but generally speaking it's because there are so many myths about breastfeeding that women buy into because they're so widely spread. For instance, statistically speaking, only about 2% of women have actual medical reasons for having supply issues. Breast milk runs on supply and demand and if you never even put your baby to your breast, your body is going to see that as zero demand for milk and thus, your milk is not going to come in.

I also get that there are all kinds of infections, ranging from thrush (I'm sure it's fun having a yeast infection on your boobs) to mastitis (which, having been lucky enough to never suffer from, I can say that I can DEFINITELY see where that would probably deter me from continuing to breastfeed).

There are also other reasons that breastfeeding isn't always the best option for the family, like the working mother (and I don't give a crap about all the laws passed allowing working moms space and time to pump - as a working waitress, I can say from experience that even though it is within my legal right to take that time to pump milk while I am at work, I am going to lose money if I practice that right.)

What I am saying is that I get that there are reasons to not breastfeed and I am not trying to pass judgment on those who do not - what works best for your family to make a healthy baby and a healthy mother is your own personal decision - but please don't tell me that breastfeeding is not natural because it is something that has to be learned. I am glad that was brought up, that is does have to be learned, but just because mother and baby have to both learn how to do it, that does not make it unnatural. It's no more unnatural than any other learned task we, as animals, do. Would you say walking is unnatural? Or chewing and swallowing solid food?

Breastfeeding is NATURAL (whether you like it or not), should be promoted (although perhaps not with this doll), and supported wholly. And just because we may choose to breastfeed, that does not mean that we are picking our place in society or bowing down to what we think that we, as women, are SUPPOSED to do. In choosing to breastfeed, we are choosing to feed our children the very best thing we possibly can - a food that is made SPECIFICALLY for them.

I'm sorry to make this so long, sir (referring back to the original poster), but while to a degree I get where you're going with your arguments, I am also a little bothered by the assumption that we're bowing down to the societal roles that we're supposed to follow by educating ourselves and taking the time to choose our children over ourselves while they are young.

I don't know if you've ever seen the movie Mona Lisa Smile, and not to give any spoilers, but there is a point in time when one of the girls in the class chose to be married and raise a family instead of going to law school. The professor went to her house to speak with her about it, telling her that she can choose both. The girl responds, 'Do you think I'll wake up one morning and regret not being a lawyer? ... Not as much as I'd regret not having a family, not being there to raise them. I know exactly what I'm doing and it doesn't make me any less smart. This must seem terrible to you... You stand in class and tell us to look beyond the image, but you don't. To you a housewife is someone who sold her soul for a center hall colonial. She has no depth, no intellect, no interests. You're the one who said I could do anything I wanted. This is what I want.' I feel that that best sums up my feelings towards the time that I put my childrens' benefit over my own career or personal life."

I'm hoping that my words won't come across as harsh, but I was really bothered by the statement that just because breastfeeding is a learned process it's unnatural.

So what do you guys think? Do you think that a doll specifically designed for pretend breastfeeding is okay? How do you feel about giving girls dolls to play with? Any responses to those who posted above?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Motivator

I've always had problems with my alarm clocks. I'm one of those people that has to hit the snooze button a million times before getting up, and I'm sure if it wasn't for that, I wouldn't have nearly as many problems as I do.

Generally speaking, the problems I have with my clocks make me wake up late. There have been multiple occasions that I've hit snooze and the alarm has never gone off again after that. And yes, I've double checked to make sure I didn't actually turn the thing off instead of just hitting snooze. It just quit working.

There have also been times that I've had what I like to call interactive dreams. Have you ever been dreaming, and all of a sudden there's a song playing in your dream? You wake up to find out that the radio is on. Well, these dreams are like that. The best example I can give of that type of dream is what I call the race dream. In my dream I was running a sort of race. I was running around the block, and just as I'd get back around, a buzzer would go off and I'd have to hit it to start my time over. I was two hours late for work that day.

My last alarm clock was the one that quit going off after snoozing. That happened to me three times in one week and luckily I just happened to wake up with about ten minutes to get ready. The first couple of times I thought it might just be a fluke, or that I did something wrong like turning the alarm off instead of hitting snooze, but like I said above, I did check, and I did not turn it off. So after the third time in one week of having the same problem, I threw that sucker away and bought a new one.

I like my new alarm clock. It was cheap and it doesn't have a radio, which means it doesn't have a volume control either. I just get a super loud, "ANK ANK ANK ANK ANK!" when it's time to get up and around. But, as with every alarm I've ever owned, this one has its own unique set of problems. The buttons which are used to set the time are right next to the snooze button on this clock, and although you have to hold the "time" button to reset the time on the clock, somehow, in hitting snooze in the mornings, I manage to bump the "hour" button. The next time I hit the snooze button, I look at the clock and it's an hour past the time I'm supposed to be at work, which forces me to jump up out of bed and run to the living room, only to see that I've got an hour to get ready. I'm already up and around, so there's no going back to bed. Plus, I honestly do have good intentions of getting up that early when I set the alarm that early, I just don't have the motivation to actually get up until the last minute. I think I'm going to rename my clock, "The Motivator."

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Chain

When you're a mom, there's something about looking down at your sleeping child that sometimes fills you with the most intense sense of gratification. There's a certain peace in knowing that you've done your job. All of the worry and stress of the day is washed away and you're left feeling full of nothing but, as cheesy as it sounds, pure love for your child, a love so strong that it feels like it could literally burst out of you at any second. 

At one point in time after I had Gracie, I want to say she was three or so, she was napping while I was on the phone with my mom. I looked down at her and she was so peaceful and everything just seemed so right with the world in that moment. That feeling washed over me, that rush of oxytocin. I asked my mother if that feeling ever goes away, if it fades with time as your child grows older. 

Her response was that, no, it never goes away or fades with time, that she still feels that feeling for me. Like so many other children, for many years I had taken for granted the love of my parents, as it had never occurred to me until that moment exactly how much love was felt for me, even as an adult. 

As I look on at my two sleeping daughters right now, I feel that feeling still. I never would have thought that it could be bigger than it already was, but every time that feeling washes over me, I remember that someone out there feels the same way for me and it doubles. There's no real way to describe it, other than a never-ending flow of energy that runs from mother to child, and is now channeled from one mother's child to her own children. I hope my girls can share this chain of love with their own children one day.