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Archive for the ‘parenting’ Category

I have made it clear to those who know and love me that I don’t truck with Valentine’s Day. I’m also not huge on anniversaries and, like my husband, I feel it’s not fair to oblige your loved ones to give you gifts on pre-determined holidays. We don’t even do Xmas presents for each other (though we do our birthdays).

We are both pretty against the patriarchical notion of monogamy (duh) and the myth of the nuclear family and I generally think of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day as two holidays cooked up to fill the dead retail months between Easter and Christmas.

But after doing a bit of research (on Wikipedia) I found that Mother’s Day has a rich history.

  • It probably started with springtime festivals honouring mother and childbirth goddesses.
  • It was started in the modern sense as a part of a pacifist movement after World War I.
  • Anna Jarvis, the woman who established it in the US did so after her own mother’s death, to create a day for mothers to be appreciated within their lifetime. Paradoxically, she never married and was childless herself. She became disillusioned after its commercialisation:
A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world. And candy! You take a box to Mother—and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment.
In other words, yes, the commercialisation of this holiday is atrocious.
But…
Being a Momma is HARD.
And today, as I am sleep deprived and at the end of my rope, the thought that just around the corner is a day when someone might bring me flowers, or give me a day to sleep in, or buy me one of these, or these, or these, or (OMG!) this, is just enough to keep me going, however foolish that thought may be.
(I’m not greedy, these are all practical. Well, except for the flowers, and maybe the t-shirt)
I know my son will grow to appreciate me, but I’ve got a few years to wait before I can expect any gifts from him. In the meantime, I’m just going to have to settle for cuddles.
UPDATE: Mother’s Day has come and gone, and my wonderful husband made the day special. I got to sleep in (also thanks to my little boy for actually sleeping through the night), he bought me a new pair of slippers and a Swiss army knife, and I got a garden centre gift certificate from his girlfriend. Yay! Also my paramour bought me cheesecake the day before which I saved until last night – score!

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I mentioned in my last post that I have a new paramour (that’s the term he’s said he wants to use).

Admittedly, I’m still in the NRE/limerance phase. But this relationship has some serious potential for the long term. We’ve been seeing each other for the last couple of months and things are still going very well. It’s his first time in a poly relationship and so far he’s been very good at expressing his needs, concerns and feelings about it. While he had his doubts at first, and he took a little time to get comfortable with things, he has embraced the situation fully. He even had his own copy of The Ethical Slut which he started re-reading after our 3rd date or so.

This is what he just said to me in chat:

“Part of what I find so appealing about our relationship is that a lot of the elements that could potentially happen in a monogamous relationship are ruled out by our setup. I don’t want children, I don’t want to get married again – ever – and I don’t want a girlfriend who would move in with me. Combined with your good looks, your caring nature, your enjoyable company and all the other fine attributes you posess have so far made this the perfect relationship for me. Unless something changes considerably I have a feeling you’re going to be stuck with me for a while.”

🙂

How awesome is that?

The fact that he’s not interested in having kids would be a problem if he hated kids, but he doesn’t. He gets along well with my son and is perfectly comfortable around young children. He is not afraid of changing nappies and he’s not put out if he’s staying over and it takes me a half an hour to get my son to sleep.

In fact, the fact that he is Childfree by Choice is quite comforting. I am confident that he is not going to screw me over for a potential ‘real’ relationship with someone who is monogamous. I am confident that I’m not ‘wasting his time’ when what he really wants is someone to have kids with. He’s happy to be a big part of my life, and even my son’s life, but feels no need to be a daddy.

And that is just fine by me.

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My posts have been few and far between lately, and this has been for a number of reasons. For one, ever since a certain attempt at dating went horribly wrong, I have had quite a few other things occupying my time that deserved my focus: holidays, play performances and getting my son involved in various activities. I’ve also had some pretty serious episodes of self discovery that made me take stock of certain patterns in my life which needed changing. There have been some major changes in my life, from a new paramour (a lovely lad I met on OkCupid) to the husband and me buying our first home.
Anther reason I haven’t posted is that I’ve been getting more involved in online Poly communities. It’s been interesting finding support networks in unexpected places. For instance, the online healthy lifestyle site, SparkPeople, has a small poly community. I started posting there a bit and I’ve met some really lovely people. I also signed up to FetLife, but have been mostly turned off by the overtly sexual photos people post (I’m no prude, but I just feel like I’d rather get to know someone before I see graphic images of their genitalia). I was recruited to join my friend’s secret poly group on Facebook as well, which has been incredibly enlightening and supportive.
I hope all of these things will mean I have more to write about. For now, I am open to suggestions for topics and will write about those about which I have an opinion when I have time.

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My son is going to be a year old in about a month.

At that time he will officially be able to drink cow’s milk, which means I have the option to stop breast-feeding him. Well, tell the truth, I’ve always had that option. I’ve kept with it for a number of reasons, both for the benefit of my son and because it’s one of the times during the day when I feel like he really appreciates me.

I’ve been trying to find advice from various sites on how to go about weaning my son after 12 months, and not surprisingly, I’ve stepped on another landmine in the Mommy Wars. Weaning v. Extended Breastfeeding.

The supposedly objective viewpoint is “do what’s best for you, whatever that is!” which to me seems like they’re saying “we’re not going to get into this, you ladies fight about it amongst yourselves!”

I’ve heard stories of women whose children “wean themselves” at about 12 months, basically start refusing the bewb when its offered, and I wonder if their child was picking up on their lack of patience or if they genuinely were over it, so to speak. I’m curious what will happen.

I’ve started tentatively offering my son some cow’s milk in his sippy cup already. He seems a bit confused by it. I’ve been giving him water for some time now, and he’s had formula from a bottle before. I think I will start eliminating his early morning feed, which I did this morning. I caved in and gave him a breastfeed after breakfast, but maybe once he starts really downing the cow’s milk, I’ll cut that feed too.

As his first birthday comes and goes, I’ll start cutting the afternoon feed too. Then the evening one, but keep the occasional feed for when he’s being particularly clingy. Or not. I have such mixed feelings about this. I was ‘fed into my toddler years, up until about 30 months or so, however, after spending two weeks with my mother and seeing how she dealt with my son, she really gives in to the crying, and I think she probably could have weaned us earlier if she was able to say no to us, which I suspect she rarely did. We weaned ourselves, apparently. I’d like my son to lead the way, but right now, he’s started to demand his feeds when he wants them, so I don’t know how easy it will be to tell him he’s not getting it anymore. At the very least, I’ll make the change gradual.

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This past weekend, I went on a romantic getaway with my honey and left my baby-daddy at home with the baby.

I spent the weekend relaxing, enjoying the benefits of a huge spa tub (not unlike the one I gave birth in, but this time with Cham-pagne instead of actual pain!) a king size bed (for sleeping in, and I mean sleeping in!) and being away from my baby.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my baby. I love him to pieces, every little tiny bit of him, each of which is getting less tiny every day (he’s almost a toddler now!), but it was nice to have a couple of days to be something other than a Momma.

Being a full-time mother is not easy. Sometimes it takes me a while to get out of the habit of constantly narrating everything I do in the third person as “Mummy”, as in, “Mummy has to put on her shoes now,” or “Mummy’s going to cry if you throw your sippy cup on the floor one more time,” or “Mummy seriously needs a martini right about now.” Not to mention the feeding, changing, playing, comforting, supervising etc. And it’s only going to get harder. As it is, he’s recently begun climbing the stairs at every opportunity. I’ve had to put up a proper safety gate – originally to keep him from going down the stairs – to keep him from ascending while my attention is elsewhere engaged.  The two weeks before my getaway were two weeks of new teeth coming in, along with the accompanying clinginess, crankiness and crying. It’s emotionally and physically draining. Not to mention the isolation of being out in the suburbs without a car most of the week.

Motherhood, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned here before, was not a role I saw myself in until very recently. The whole thing still strikes me as odd. I don’t feel like the Mommy/Mummy ‘type.’ Even though in some ways I enjoy being a domestic goddess – cooking, baking, entertaining – there are other aspects I really suck at – housekeeping…that’s it really. I chose this role for myself, so I’ve nobody to blame, but it still doesn’t feel like me most of the time.

A weekend away has made me feel more like myself. Or rather, being away from my role and my routine has made me feel refreshed and happy with it again. I’ve come back to my baby and my husband with renewed enthusiasm. It’s like the “me” muscles were atrophied and I’d only been using the “momma” muscles. But now I’ve had time to strengthen the “me” muscles so the “momma” side is balanced out and my life is easier to carry.

I’m so grateful to my boyfriend for whisking me away, and to my husband for being a single dad for the weekend.

Life is good.

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A friend of mine recently posted on her Facebook status about her frustration with people who call those of us who choose to reproduce, “breeders.” It’s used in a derogatory fashion by those who choose to remain childfree. If I recall correctly, it started out as a derogatory term for straight people used by members of the gay community. Now that the gay community is fighting for the right to marry and have children, the term has fallen out of fashion.

However, it got me thinking. I’ve felt for a long time that the 1950’s ideal of the nuclear family is problematic. After I had my baby, I felt this even more strongly. So many things about motherhood would be easier if I shared the burden with a larger community. I couldn’t believe how hard it was to breastfeed! How did we survive as a species when something so basic is so difficult? Well, we didn’t do it alone. A new mother was surrounded by other mothers: sisters, cousins, aunties and so on. There were plenty of people to help out, plenty of other women who could fill in.

I sympathise with the feelings of those who think we shouldn’t have so many damn kids. Living sustainably means not overpopulating the Earth. But if we didn’t insist on maintaining the model of the nuclear family, would we feel the need to have so many kids? If we lived in larger groups, extended families, and poly-fidelitous clans, we’d spend lots of time assisting in the raising of children, who aren’t necessarily our own. People who want the experience of a large family would get it, without having to have eight or more kids on their own. There would be less need to buy so much crap because toys, clothes, etc. would get re-used many times within the group.

“Breeders” aren’t necessarily to blame. I, personally blame the nuclear family, based on the patriarchal, individualist ideal of modern, western culture. I hate the suburbs, where we all live in nice, neat little individual boxes, isolated from our neighbours and removed from the community. We’ve been programmed to think that this is the “dream” we’re supposed to achieve: to have our own little patch of land for our own tiny little family unit.  The reality is that it’s not doing us any good, and it’s not doing the planet any favours either.

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(Should that be “Merry” instead of “Happy”? Nah…)

Lately, I’ve been feeling a bit shut-in. I live waaay out in the suburbs and it takes me at least 20 minutes to get ANYWHERE. My husband takes the car during the week and to get anywhere I either need to walk or take the bus. It’s a pain and it’s very, very isolating.
I have a mothers group, or at least I had a mothers group, but they tend to get together in places that I can’t get to without a car. We used to meet in the park, but now that it’s winter, that’s not practical.
And now some of them have gone back to work full time. I’ve been considering putting my son in childcare one day a week so I at least get a little ‘grown-up time’ once in a while. But childcare is going to be expensive, and I’m pretty sure what I’ll be making at a job won’t even cover the cost. It’s frustrating at times, and very lonely.
Yesterday, however, I had a lovely afternoon. My husband’s girlfriend’s other partner, with whom she co-habitates, works evenings and has a car. He told me last week that if I ever want company, that he can come by and hang out. I’m totally out of his way, but it was a nice offer. Yesterday, I was starting to get the lonely crazies and so I took him up on his offer. He came by, looked after my son so I could take a shower and we played a card game and chatted while my son crawled around. It was such a nice reminder of the benefits of having a poly family.
Next week, my husband’s going to be away, and his girlfriend has offered to babysit so that I can continue my activities. And my secondary partner will be coming by in the evenings to keep me company. We’re all part of one big, happy, poly family.

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