And for once I was SuperMom

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Village: Take Two

Another long afternoon stretches out before me.  With my youngest still napping each day takes the same basic shape.  Morning activity, afternoon in the house.  This pattern has held long enough that I don't really remember what it was like to have a day completely open and unstructured.  So many other mothers follow the same pattern, out and then in.

The afternoon's have gotten a bit lonely for my eldest.  I can tell.  I don't know that I mind the 'in' times.  Time to get housework done, time to get painting done, time to get writing done, time to get cooking done.  But my eldest has just crossed the threshold into wanting to have friends around all the time.  Wanting playmates and little ones to imagine with.  She asks me to play with her, but I am horrible at it.  My ability to get on the floor and be creative in play has long been funneled into other venues.
I just read the recent post about the village that never was.  I've been saying and feeling this ever since I had my eldest.  Wanting help and needing companionship so very badly, but often being stuck in my apartment taking care of little ones all by myself.  Being driven mad by the need for other people.  The silence of adult voices ringing deafening in my head.

This wasn't even when we chose to stay in the house all day.  We rarely often do.  When we would go to playgrounds or libraries I would look around see no friendly faces.  Exchange a few words here and there, but no real connection.

So I invite people over, we trade playdates, a perfect solution, right?
Except that I seem to be able to only get one scheduled a week. I know that so many other women are on the same schedule.  Everyone is seems busy.  Or we assume that everyone is busier than we are.  Or we assume that other people don't us like we need them.
We all want the village, but what does it take to make it happen?
We don't want to put anyone out.
We don't want to give up our time.
Are we so married to our individualism that we are harming ourselves?
I think I was okay with those standards, but now that I am seeing it affect my child I want to change something.  We all seem to be struggling from the same thing, parenting in isolation.
But what does it take to change this ladies?  Opening up our schedules to let people in?  Admitting that we need help?  Being willing to flex and see if the baby will nap at a friend's house? 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

So Many Questions

“Mommy, why is she saying ‘I’m so fancy,” Emma asks from the backseat.
“Uh….she thinks she’s fancy,” I leaned over and changed the radio station.  Yes, I was listening to Iggy Azalea’s ‘I’m So Fancy,’ in the car with my children.  Is that so wrong?  It probably is. 
“Why is she saying I-G-G-Y?” Emma asks a moment later.
For that one I really had no answer.
Just because I had kids doesn’t mean my love for bad pop music has gone away.  I’ve always said the day I hear, ‘Hey baby drop it to the floor,’ from the backseat is the day that I will stop.
So that basically happened.
I have never heard Scott giggle so much.  Later on he told me that I totally deserved that line of questioning.
I did.
Emma is in that ‘questioning stage.’  Every conversation is a litany of ‘whys.’  She asks me stuff that I know that she knows the answer to.  Which is frustrating.  Or the exact same ‘why’ question that she has been asking for the past several days.  I often get hung up on some of the ‘whys,’ when I know that the true answer to what she is asking is a concept that is way too large for her to understand.  I know that it is developmental, and I take deep breaths and try to not let the constant ‘whys’ get under my skin. 
I can remember asking ‘whys’ all the time as a child.  I remember wanting to know the deeper meaning, why did they do that in the story?  What was their motivation?  What were they thinking?  I just wanted MORE.

So I Googled it.  ‘Why do children ask so many questions?’  I wanted to know what developmental function was driving a child’s need to constantly pepper you with questions.  I was given a few links to question and answer forums.  Quite a few of them said some version of ‘kids don’t know much and that’s the only way they have to gain knowledge.’  I thought that was a bit arrogant and weak.  Kids know a lot, they have lots of ways to gain knowledge (sight, touch, taste, observations, etc.), and, I mean, I know I am a god of knowledge, but I don’t know everything.  I clicked enough to find this webpage.  I do know what it feels like to answer a child and receive a deflated response from them.  I guess I had thought that was because the answer wasn’t quite as magical as they thought it would be.  I liked the thought that they are just trying to engage you in conversation and they don’t have a better way of going about it.  I’ve tried just exploring her questions with her, especially when she asks the same question over and over again.  I know that child has a mind like a steel trap, I am pretty sure that she didn’t forget the former answer.
But it remains annoying.  Which is hard.  Because it’s just a stage.  I don’t want her to internalize my annoyance and begin to believe that she is annoying.  She is just four, and four year olds do annoying things.  The other day I had about quite enough of it, I turn to her and say,
“Why are you asking me so many questions?”
“Because I just don’t know what is going on all the time,” she responded. 

There you have it.  From the mouths of babes.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


“Yeah, I’ll just go ahead and stay home with Carys,” Scott said resigned, “this is really horrible timing.”
            Emma’s first ballet recital was on a Sunday afternoon.  We had to have here there at 2:30, even though the performance wasn’t until four.  Our two year old naps from about one to four every afternoon.  I’ve been pretty faithful about keeping my children on the afternoon nap schedule for the sum of their little lives.  I don’t take them anywhere during that time.  Outings would be a mistake for everyone involved.  I can’t tell you how many secretaries have been bewildered by my refusal to bring in a sick child during nap time. 
            ‘Really you want a feverish, exhausted toddler in your office?  That sounds super productive for everyone,’ is usually the refrain in my mind.
            So I took Emma to her recital on my own.  The dance studio we chose is one of the more laid back in our town; so all I needed to get for her ‘costume,’ was a light pink leotard, skirt and tights.  I begged, borrowed, and shopped second hand for all parts of her costume.  She’s four, she will wear it for a few hours, why should I spend a lot of money on that?  In the interest of simplicity and eco-friendliness why can’t we all just pass around our daughter’s worn- for -two -minute -costumes. 
            I didn’t think my logic was off base.
            A week before the recital I pulled out the pink tulle skirt that I had bought about a year ago at a garage sale for Emma to wear as dress up clothes.  There was orange paint in a few choice spots.  I don’t know it got orange paint on it.  I’m an artist, my kid paints, I’m not the most attentive parent….Anyway, I hand washed it in the bathroom sink and got a fair amount out.  I started dreaming up schemes to hot glue tulle around the top to cover the stains.
            We gave it trial run at class the day before the recital and her teacher said it was just fine.  I relaxed, and smashed my nightmares of staying up until midnight hot gluing tulle to my four year old’s ballet costume.  Would she even notice?  Would that give an enlarged sense of entitlement to get so fancy a costume?  At my personal expense?  Would she even know how much work that was?
            The recital was held in a local high school auditorium.  An auditorium far nicer than where many of my college classes were held.  I turned my little one over to her ballet teacher and got a seat next to one of the other mom’s from her class.  Then I started to notice how many girls seemed to have their entire families turn out for them.  Then I started to see all the bouquets of flowers.  Then I started to wonder.
            Earlier in the class I had started to get the feeling that one of the other mother’s thought we were poor.  We’re not.  We don’t make a ton of money.  But we’re still in the top two percent of the global pay scale.  Sure my child’s costume was second hand.  I could’ve bought the whole thing new.  We could’ve afforded it.
            But I didn’t want to buy it new.  That seemed wasteful.  Extravagant.  I think I spent about six dollars, whereas I could have spent about forty five.
            As all the other families filed into this gorgeous auditorium, I felt bad for Emma.  She only had me, and I was certainly not toting a bouquet.  A heated thought rose in my head,
            ‘But what if I want to be simple?’  What if I want to promote a life of material simplicity for my children?  What if I don’t want them to have toys up to their eyeballs?  What if I want them to be creative?  What if I want her to take value in the effort and work in her performance and not the dollar amount of her costume?

            Can I do that?  Can I maintain these values? Without other people looking down on me?  Can I keep from caring that other people might be looking down on me?  

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Gender Bent

Sometimes when I like a song I wander on over to youtube and listen to the song when I need a fix.  If the video doesn't look too offensive I'll watch it, so yesterday I stumbled across this little jem. At first when Ingrid Michealson came up I thought, 'what, another Sarah Palin imitation?'  Then as I watched the rest of the video I realized it really was an homage to Robert Palmer's 'Simply Irresistible.'  I mean, that is what the title says, buuuuut then, I knew it was true.
I laughed a bit, watching men sally around in spandex is always a little funny.  I didn't quite know what to do with it.  From what I can understand the song 'Girls Chase Boys' is about the games that men and women play in relationships.
When I clicked over to watch Robert Palmer's video, I realized just how multi-layered this homage is.
(If you haven't clicked on all the links, I'd like you to take a moment now and click and watch.)
My reaction to the first video was to giggle.  Why would men want to dance around like that?  Why would they shake themselves in front of the camera?  That's so silly.  The dance moves just looked odd with male bodies performing them.
Then when I watched the original video I realized that I was not shocked at all by the video.  Seeing women prancing about in spandex and performing provocative little shimmies seemed almost normal, kind of tame, really, by today's standards.
When I showed the videos to Scott he called 'Simply Irresistible' gratuitous.  He's right, having women bend over and wiggle their cleavage  in front of the camera is a bit gross.  Or zeroing in on their wiggling bottoms is a bit gross.
Maybe men are wired different, and because of sexist paradigms in the entertainment industry this sort of filming has become next to normal.  Maybe men are just told that they're allowed to ogle and that they should and that they can't help themselves and women are told that they're not wired like that.  I don't know.  Nature vs. nurture?
But that's not what this is about.
Seeing men perform dances, that we've almost come to expect of women, makes those dances seem silly. Then why are we expecting women to do them?
Why is it so funny to see men act that way?
A friend of mine pointed out the other day that some people get all upset when their daughters attach to the whole Disney princess machine.  But we're okay when our sons attach to standard male stereotypes.  We're so proud of our girls when they're tomboys, but a little sheepish when they love ballet.
Because 'female' is bad.  Anything that is considered generally 'female' is bad.  So when a man dresses as a woman we giggle.
'Why would he want to act like a woman?'
I've heard so many women say that they wished they were male.  I am proud to say that I've never wished to be male.  That might be the tiny part of me that is logical popping up,
'I can't be male, so why wish for it?'
Might as well make it awesome to be female.
My eldest daughter is into the princess thing.  We've kept the princess toys and books to a dull roar in our home.  I have a number of reasons; the actual probability of her becoming a princess is pretty low, in most princess stories there is an overemphasis on beauty and falling in love.  And clothes, lots of dresses.  Life is really so much more than that.
Scott told me that while reading a book my eldest starting asking where all the 'girl kitties were.'
If you ask her what she wants to be when she grows up she always says, 'Doctor.'
I am hoping that for her and her world it will be awesome to be female.