Friday, July 29, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday (1)

Welcome to my first time participating in 7 Quick Takes Friday hosted by Jen at Conversion Diary. I have no idea if I'm supposed to be coming up with a list of  related items or just random musings. I'll go with random . . . likely shorter than my usual ramblings since it's already Friday morning and I haven't put much thought into this.

1. Starting to seriously consider homeschooling. I'm a bit overwhelmed at all the information out there. And a bit in awe of folks who actually pull this off.

2. Continually amused by my five-year-old's questions. Why do people get married? When I get married, will there by a baby in my tummy? How does your breast pump work?

3. Hubby is coming home today after four days out of town. Four days is nothing; we've done many more months. Yet, it's been rare for him to be gone lately, and so we don't have a procedure in place for Non-Daddy Day-to-Day Living.


4. I have the most adorable baby boy in the entire world. (Okay, so other parents of baby boys may disagree.)



This little prince will be 9 months old soon
5. Planning our next Inside of Italy Adventure (as opposed to our next Outside of Italy Adventure, which won't be until Christmas) . . . Venice (never been) and Florence (we went over spring break but had to cut our trip short due to puking).

6. Three-year-olds are very emotional creatures. Just sayin.


7. Next Friday I will be more prepared and have something witty to say. Really.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

I Never Thought I'd Say This

I'm thinking about homeschooling my children.
There; I said it.
Not this year, but maybe next year when we move again.
Eva and Julia walking to school.
I previously proclaimed that this would never work for us. I've also professed my love of the structure school provides when it comes to having a consistent routine.
Honestly, I used to think People Who Homeschool were on-the-fringe freaks wanting to shelter their kids from the real world. Or religious extremists. Or hippies. Or just plain weird.
I'm not weird. Okay; maybe they're not either. Sigh.
Yes, I'm considering it . . . partly because I think my children would learn best in this setting. Partly because I think I could do a good job teaching to their strengths. Partly because I hated school. Partly because I was bored through most of school. Partly because I wasted a lot of time in public school learning ridiculous crap. (When did you last need to conjugate a list of obscure Spanish verbs? diagram a compound sentence? show off your speed math drill talents? I thought so.)
Bear with my schizophrenic thoughts here; I'm going somewhere with this. I promise.
Agent J enjoying art time.
Not knowing where to begin, I did what I do best: Obsessive Googling and List-Making. And contacting every friend of a friend of a friend who may have at one point given the slightest thought to educating their children at home.
Lists I've come up with so far:
Some Reasons the Agents and I Would Probably Love Homeschooling
  • We can study what we want and at our own pace.
  • We can make our own school/learning timetable, taking Hubby's crazy hours/schedule into account.
  • We would enjoy year-round school with frequent breaks much better than 9 months on/3 months off.
Some Reasons the Agents and I Would Probably Hate Homeschooling
  • We actually have to be disciplined enough to do it.
  • The girls LOVE school . . . their friends, their teachers . . . everything about it, really.
  • After the first few weeks (days?) of all that togetherness we may will drive each other batty.
Some Reasons Why I Hesitate To Even Attempt Homeschooling
  • We actually have to be disciplined enough to do it.
  • On some level it seems insulting/disrespectful to my friends and family who teach.
  • Agent A is still so young, and I feel like I would be neglecting his need for Mommy Time if the girls were home all day every day.
Agent E stoked for the first day of school.
Basically I've come to the conclusion that there is just Too Much Information out there. Seriously, my brain hurts. So do me a favor, would ya, nice readers?
  • If you are considering homeschooling, but are also just starting your research, let me know and we can swim through it together.
  • If you currently homeschool (or have in the past) and would like to impart some wisdom, share three things you wish you would have known starting out.
  • If you are willing, pass along this post to your Facebook friends or blog readers who may be able to offer some input. I'm hoping to find as many real world "this worked for us and you're not alone" examples as I can.

Monday, July 25, 2011

What Mothers Do

I wish I would have read Naomi's Standlen's What Mothers Do (Especially When It Looks Like Nothing) in the early days with Eva . . . or even during my pregnancy, although it may not have clicked before I had a newborn in my arms. Motherhood is something that escapes concrete explanation, and yet reading this made me feel as though someone really gets it, the way a good friend just knows you. It's not an "advice" or "how to" book but more of a therapeutic read. She writes from an AP perspective, and the quotes from mothers she includes had me nodding along the entire time.
For this post I will focus on the following ideas: preparation, interruption, comfort, efficiency, and transformation.
1. Preparation
When I was preggo with Agent E, Hubby and I went to an all-day "childbirth preparation" class offered at the hospital. Looking back now, it was pretty lame, but at the time I'm sure we were hanging on every word. We skipped formal classes altogether with Agent J. While preggo with Agent A, I went to another class, only because I was delivering at a different hospital and I wanted a tour. This class would have scared the bejesus out of me if I were a first-time parent-to-be. Luckily, I felt confident enough at that point to tune most of it out. 
Momma with Agent E at 7 months.
Mothers may be given a "warming up" period of a couple of weeks. After that, they are usually expected to be calm and capable. Would it not be much more realistic to expect new mothers to be unprepared, anxious, confused, and very emotional for the first six months? If we could accept that this beginning is the norm for most new mothers, we would be in a better position to be supportive and respectful. (from Chapter 2, Nothing Prepares You, page 46)
What did you do to "prepare" for parenting? 
Did any of it help?
2. Interruption
My life is simply a series of interruptions. This is why it is so important for me to strive for some quiet time each day. However, my own needs are no longer number one on the priority list. I don't expect this to change for quite a while. Parenting is a 24-hour-a-day gig; sometimes not terribly convenient, but always worth it.
Mothers sometimes fear that they will "spoil" their babies. They fear that their babies will manipulate them into coming "just for attention," and that they will grow into children who will expect their mothers to keep putting everything down for trifles. This doesn't seem to happen. If a baby is crying for attention, he seems to need it. If an older child has become manipulative, it is nearly always because he hasn't been able to get what he needs by more straightforward methods. Moreover, one can see how a baby who has been given attention when he cried for it develops into a generous child, who is sensitive to the feelings of other people. (from Chapter 4, Being Instantly Interruptible, page 69)
What is one daily activity you miss doing sans interruption? 
3. Comfort
The first hours with Agent J.
In those first weeks (months?) with Agent E, I remember thinking she can’t possibly want to nurse again. Again! Seriously, didn’t I just feed her? The second she dozed off (or stopped eating, or stopped crying) I made a beeline for the bassinet. I put her down. She protested. What in the H was I doing wrong? Weren’t infants supposed to just lie there quietly, either sleeping or cooing at the ceiling, unless you were tending to their immediate needs?
Then I discovered Something Very Important: The goal is not to put the baby down. The goal, as it turns out, is to know your baby. Once I accepted this little epiphany my mothering became much more intuitive and relaxed.
No one supports the mother while she is learning how to comfort or celebrates her when she is able to give comfort. People ask mothers: "Is he sleeping through the night yet?" "Have you started him on solids yet?" "Has he got any teeth?" No one seems to ask: "Have you discovered what comforts him?" Yet the ability to sleep through the night or to digest solid food or to grow teeth has little to do with mothering. (from Chapter 5, The Power of Comfort, page 76)
How did you learn to comfort your newborn? What worked best for you?
4. Efficiency
Often being a mother means the best laid plans go right out the window.
For instance, Agent A was sick this weekend, and he is still kind of sick now. (90% of the time spent composing this post I had a baby on top of me.) He's teething, so already miserable, and then came down with a cold on Friday. Because he likes to breath, he's been mostly sleeping on my shoulder or in the Papasan. With every cold, he tends to be a puker, so we've been dealing with that joy, too. 
Out and about with 2-month Agent A.
A "busy mother" is almost a cliche. The term suggests plenty of visible and useful actions. But life with a baby during his first six months outside the womb may not be active at all. Often it is slow. A mother can't touch a fast-forward button when her baby is breastfeeding, for example. He sucks, stops, gazes at her face for a while, continues sucking, closes his eyes and drowses off, still sucking, but wakes up in a flash to carry on sucking if she so much as stirs. Busy? Even her thoughts may seem sluggish and slow. Later, she may have to get busy cleaning up, tidying, and making phone calls. But these actions are more loosely connected to being a mother. They are about taking care of herself, the rest of her family, and the home. (from Chapter 6, I Get Nothing Done All Day, pages 104-105)
How "efficient" do you feel on an average day?
5. Transformation
I've written previously about my expectations before I became a parent. It would not be exaggerating to say that becoming a Momma has altered my entire soul. I will never be my "old" self again. And I see this as a very good thing.
People have described a mother's journey as a "letting go" process. But in a sense, she never completely lets go, and can never quite return to the woman she was. Once she opens herself to her child, something within her stays open. She has changed profoundly, and for her whole life. (from Chapter 10, I Was Surprised That I Still Had the Same Name, page 215)
How has becoming a mother changed you?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Changes

I haven't seen my mom in 16 months (we live on different continents) but I talk to her on the phone about once a week. I remember growing up listening to her end of the conversation while she was on the phone with my Grandma. I never understood how they had so much to talk about. Ha!

Like my mother, I "stay home" with my children. My mom raised five kids; I'm just starting my journey of raising three.


Things, as they say, certainly have changed, however. 

I breastfed all three children; my mom's doctor told her to formula feed because the "new" formulas available were better than breastmilk.

I cloth diapered by choice; my mom did out of necessity. While disposable diapers were on the market when my siblings and I were babies, purchasing them wasn't really a feasible option.

When my mom was my age, her oldest child was going to college; my oldest is heading to kindergarten.

But I'd say the biggest change is the very fact that this blog exists.

My mom became a parent at a time when most women depended almost exclusively on their family doctor for advice. I'm sure my mother's generation could never have even dreamed of the idea that moms all over the world could share thoughts, "talk" to each other, commiserate, and offer parenting tips in such a medium. 

I've been (semi-seriously) working on this blog for about four months now, and I can't express how much fun it has been getting to know other parents who blog about parenting joys and challenges and reading what they have to say. 

Are you a fellow Mommy (or Daddy) blogger? Please leave a comment or send me an e-mail. I would love to "meet" you!