Archive for the ‘musings’ Category

Why A New Perspective on Mother’s and Father’s Day   Leave a comment

Since becoming a mother 18 months ago, I’ve been through two Mother’s Days, and the experience has really made me think about what Mother’s and Father’s Days really mean to me. I am surrounded by people who consider them to be fake “Hallmark” holidays not worth celebrating, and who emphasize that you should love your mother/father all the time and not just one day a year (a sentiment which which I certainly do not disagree). Being told to my face this year that Mother’s Day is a fake holiday got me really defensive but I didn’t have the right the words to defend it. For my entire life until now what other people think about Mother’s/Father’s Day never mattered one bit, probably because the day wasn’t about me; but now everything has changed. It can’t be just about my mom any more, and it’s certainly not just about me. This year I realized that it’s also about celebrating the role of mothers and fathers in society and their importance to the human race.

It has always been very important to me to honor my parents on Mother’s/Father’s Day, most especially my mom (yup, I was one of those kids who responded “my mom” when asked who my hero was). I have to confess that it was an obligatory celebration on at least one year for my dad as I was emotionally struggling with that relationship, but I still felt the need to do something. Growing up this was the day to make sure my parents knew how grateful I was for everything they had done for my brother and I, and how much I valued them. I’m sure I could have said “thanks” and “I love you” much more often throughout the year. Mother’s/Father’s Day was an opportunity to try to express my love and thanks and that I always felt it even if I didn’t express it every day.

For all that it was always important for me to honor my parents (and to a degree, my grandparents), it may be interesting that I didn’t look forward to my first Mother’s Day. How much that was my own neurosis vs. influence of the attitudes around me, I’m still not sure. But the fact remains that when I was pregnant I was inordinately glad that we hadn’t told anyone (except our mothers, of course) that we were pregnant yet so that I didn’t have to endure people wishing me a happy Mother’s Day when I didn’t consider myself a mother yet. Then the following year, with a 5-month old baby at home, I was dreading church that Sunday and the fact that I would have to stand up for the blessing of the mothers and have people with me a happy Mother’s Day. And yet the Mother’s Day card that my mom sent me brought me to tears and is tucked away for me to save forever. Some introspection lead to me realize that I didn’t feel like I’d yet “earned” the honor of Mother’s Day, as my accomplishments at that point included “birthing him” and “keeping him alive for 5 months” (as significant as those might be) but no teaching, modeling, or guiding, and he’s not yet old enough to be consciously grateful for comfort, security, and love. Basically, my attitude up to that point required Conan to be old enough to tell me “Happy Mother’s Day” before it would feel right to me. And that is just not right.

This year the universe helped me out with more stories about men who won’t wish a happy Mother’s Day on their wives because “you’re not my mother”, which also just feels not right to me. But that made me realize that Mother’s Day can’t be just about honoring your own mother, as important as that may be. Following that train of thought led me to the importance of honoring the institution of motherhood. Everyone has a mother and a father, and in an ideal world everyone would grow up with a mother figure and a father figure. They are crucial to our development. It is important to recognize how important both mothers and fathers are on both an individual and societal basis. Yes, it’d be great to walk the walk as well (plenty of issues to cover from maternity/paternity leave to respect/support for both stay-at-home mothers and fathers and working parents), but you’ve got to start by talking the talk. We have special days set aside to honor vets, workers, and distinguished/accomplished individuals, so isn’t it appropriate to honor all mothers and fathers as well? I’m just sad that it took me becoming a mother to consciously realize this.

Although I still think my personal relationship with Mother’s Day will be tenuous until Conan is old enough to tell me “Happy Mother’s Day”, but that’s just my personality. And I really hope that he actually wants to celebrate both Mother’s and Father’s Day the way I did/do.

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Posted June 1, 2014 by mayakey in musings, parenting

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Amusing Lessons of My First Year+ as a Parent   Leave a comment

In my first year+ as a parent I’ve found a few lessons to be particularly surprising and/or amusing. I’m listing a few of them here.

  1. It is possible to be incompetent at snapping. I had previously classed snaps as being basically the same level of easiness as velcro. I mean it’s just position and push, and then presto you’re done. No finger twists, no real paying attention to what you’re doing needed, right? Then I had a baby, whose clothing and diapers have lots of snaps on them, and now I think I’d give myself a “D” on my snapping proficiency. Even while he was a newborn I was amazed at how often I failed at my first attempt to secure a snap! And once he started wiggling? Oh goodness, that was a struggle. The thing that really amazed me was not that I had trouble positioning the two halves of the snap together, but that after correct positioning I would be unable to get the snaps pressed together. My zipper and button proficiencies are at least a solid “B”, but I dread to find out what my “tying someone else’s shoe” proficiency is.
  2. Everybody’s wrong with the whole “eating for two while pregnant” thing. I already knew before getting pregnant that the old saw was not true for pregnancy. I wasn’t eating for two, just me and a parasite. Although dealing with hunger was certainly an important part of pregnancy. But then he was born and I started breastfeeding him. I thought I was hungry before?! Nobody ever talks about “eating for two while nursing a newborn” but that’s absolutely true. He needed to do all that initial growing fueled by me, which meant that I discovered new depths of hunger. And I am still eating what seems to me still to be crazy portion sizes. Mike and I joke around about it because there have been meals when we made what used to be enough for two dinner and two lunch portions, and then I went and ate three portions for dinner.
  3. For as long as I can remember I have not been able to get to bed before midnight. Whether I started getting ready for bed at 10pm or 11:30pm, I could not be in bed with the lights out before midnight. And then I got pregnant and my bedtime moved up a few hours. I don’t actually remember what time I was usually getting to bed, but I think 9pm was pretty normal while I was pregnant. And 16 months after giving birth I’m still able to get to bed earlier. For the first several months of Conan’s life I was in bed with the lights out by 9:30 (granted there were 2-4 arousals to nurse during the night). As his night sleep periods lengthened that gradually moved to 10 and then 10:30. I started napping with him for his morning nap every day and my bedtime moved to between 10:30 and 11. Now that he’s not napping in the morning anymore, 10:30 is much more attractive and it’s still doable. I hope this lasts, I like getting to bed earlier.
  4. Baby’s offer a great posture reminder when they start sitting. When we stand up straight in our society, we tend to lift our chins and tilt our heads back (so that our line of sight is straight forward?). But if you ever have read about posture, we’re supposed to be lifting the crown of our heads, not our chins. If you look at a sitting baby in profile they look like they’re looking down but it’s really just that they naturally hold their heads so that their crown is the highest point. Whenever I really looked at Conan sitting, it always made me adjust my posture. Of course now he’s standing and walking and looking up at us a lot, so I don’t get that reminder as much.
  5. Another great reminder I get from Conan while I’m nursing him sometimes is to unclench my jaw. I’m guessing I’m not the only person who has a bad habit of clenching my jaw when concentrating on something, either mental or physical. But I noticed that when Conan started wiggling while nursing, he’d be waving his butt in the air, kicking his legs, moving his arms all over, etc, but there was no change to his jaw pressure or suction. If it had been me there’s no way I could have wiggled my butt like that and not tightened my jaw a bit. I’m very thankful that he is able to keep the jaw relaxed, or as relaxed as it can be considered while nursing.
  6. Babies don’t just get garlic breath, they exude garlic from their entire being. I have to confess that I’ve rarely if ever noticed garlic breath or any whiff of garlic around adults who have just consumed it. (Maybe because I’ve usually also had garlic?) But when we started putting a clove of roasted garlic in Conan’s food I noticed that the garlic smell was on his breath, in his pee, and just coming from his skin, too. And it took at least a couple days to clear!  It’s not just garlic, it’s roasted onion as well, so this must be all albums. I considered it to be an amusing smell of healthy eating.

Posted April 6, 2014 by mayakey in musings, parenting, pregnancy

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Pregnancy IS a Second Chakra Exercise in Letting Go Control   Leave a comment

For the last several months I’ve been working on catching up on my photo albums/memory books. They were a little out of date. The paper album hadn’t yet left 2004. The digital album really only had 2009 and 2010. Now my paper album is up-to-date (except for the wedding albums), my friends-and-family album is in progress, and the digital album is halfway through 2007. I chose to do this as a first chakra exercise (as well as clearing the mess from the collage table in the living room so that I can do some artwork) prior to Baby coming. I figured that it would be a good first chakra exercise because it reinforces my tribal history, reminding me of the friends and family that have made me who I am today.

I also wanted to figure out a second chakra exercise, since the second chakra is physically located in the sexual organs and it seemed like it would be appropriate as a part of labor prep. For the longest time I didn’t have any ideas what to do. Then a few weeks ago I realized that pregnancy in and of itself is a second chakra exercise. Not only that, but it’s an exercise in letting go control, which is my biggest second chakra issue. Yet another example of how well nature takes care of itself. During pregnancy I am no longer in control of my body/senses, sometimes my mind and emotions play with me and become “unpredictable”, and time after time after time there are circumstances where it doesn’t matter what I want because it’s just not going to happen. I can have the image of the ideal pregnancy: healthy diet, daily supplements, regular exercise, plenty of relaxation, a nursery that is carpeted before the baby becomes full term allowing plenty of time to pull together a nursery, a solid plan… However, that just ain’t reality and  the most important thing I can do is let go and accept what is reality. Yes, I know, that’s true in normal life as well, but it’s magnified during pregnancy. Stressing out is not an option. And when I have had breakdowns they need to be resolved asap; repression is not an option, depression is not an option. Most of those breakdowns have been related to either control issues or relationship issues, both of which are second chakra, and have resulted in me being able to work through some significant challenges that I hadn’t been facing. Mentally, conscious pregnancy has been very healthy for me.

And now I think I’m ready for labor and then letting go control of the rest of my life.

Posted December 10, 2012 by mayakey in conscious living, musings, pregnancy

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Pregnancy Task List Item: Get Lost In a Book   1 comment

After spending several hours this past Sunday curled up on the couch enjoying a wonderful book, I realized that this should actually be on the to-do list while pregnancy. Maybe it would have been good if I’d been outside ripping out the front of the lawn, or figuring out if/which birthing class to take, or cleaning the kitchen to hopefully make it smell less stomach-churningly bad. But then again, in a few months, after Baby is born, I won’t have a chance to spend hours immersed in a book sans interruptions. At least not for several years. So I hereby declare that lots of reading time is now a priority item for the next few months.

This has been a new experience for me, this permissible laziness. Well, new since the start of adulthood anyway. Not that I haven’t had plenty of lazy time reading books in one sitting, watching all-day TV marathons, or other things like that. But most of the time I try to balance it and actually be “productive”, living actively, and trying to make the life that I dream of. Life seems to go in these cycles. Childhood is, or should be, a period of relative carefree-ness. Then adulthood gets busier. College was fun-busy during the school year, and then relaxing in the summer. It’s easy to come home from a summer job, do some yoga and reading, and relax when you don’t have to cook dinner, pay bills, or otherwise be “responsible”. Working that first full time job while also carrying the responsibilities of independence is a shock. For my part, I compensated by being as lazy and unproductive as possible while still meeting my responsibilities. But that means zero progress toward creating the life of my dreams. Then, boom, I meet my future husband and all of a sudden there isn’t enough time in the world. Life gets busy, really busy. There’s the dating, wedding planning, honeymoon planning, buying a house, and then working on starting a family. But there’s also making up for lost time working towards the life that I want to have. And now, a hiatus. A forced hiatus at first, given that for a couple of months I barely managed (ok, didn’t manage) to get all the bills paid on time and checking account in the black because I was just so exhausted all the time. I will be eternally grateful that Mike took over all of the dinner cooking responsibilities and still did the dishes afterwards (as well as picking up much of the rest of my slack). I would have starved otherwise since my nose dictated minimum kitchen exposure. And now that I have some of that energy back, I still just think that rather than a time of being busy “preparing” for life with Baby this needs to be the calm before the storm. The preparations will happen in due time, but the calm can’t be rushed or put off until later.

Posted July 18, 2012 by mayakey in musings, pregnancy

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Our Perspective   Leave a comment

What we choose to emphasize will determine our perspective.

Howard Zinn

Posted March 28, 2012 by mayakey in conscious living, musings, quotes, spiritual practices

Celebrating All Forms of Love   Leave a comment

Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holidays. Of course I have the unique perspective that it’s the day after my birthday, and as a kid it was essentially “birthday, day 2”. As a result of that perspective, though, Valentine’s Day has never been a romantic holiday for me but a day to celebrate friendships. I still don’t celebrate it as a romantic holiday, and as an adult there are less opportunities for the easy celebrations with friends, so it is kind of a wistful holiday now. As I type this, though, I realize that that need not be the case. Is there any particular reason not to reach out to friends and say “thanks for being my friend, thanks for being in my life and making it so much richer? We have all kinds of “appreciation days” on the greeting-card-holiday calendar, but I don’t think there is a Friendship Day. Romantic love gets to be celebrated on anniversaries, but what about a day to celebrate the friendship love of the many other people that brighten your life? How often do we take our friendships for granted? One of the things that has been repeated many times in the JustFaith Engaging Spirituality program is the importance of gratitude and thankfulness in our spiritual lives, the importance of recognizing the blessings and gifts that we have received in our lives. I can testify that life has an extra shine on it when gratitude is regularly practiced in some way.

So I hereby pledge that starting this year, I’ll celebrate Valentine’s Day again my way: as Friend’s Day. And I think Facebook will make a convenient adult “Valentine mailbox”. Hey, I’m lazy.

Posted February 14, 2012 by mayakey in musings, spiritual practices

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Computer Gaming Problem   Leave a comment

One of my goals set back in August was to cut my TV watching down to 2 hours during the week and 2 hours on weekends. That was the explicit goal. The implicit goal was to read more, and get to sleep on time easier. Well, I made the explicit goal easily; but missed the implicit goal by a long shot. How’s that? Well I gave in to a computer game itch. I have a somewhat addictive roleplaying game on my computer that I’ve been playing for the last 10 years. I found version 2 way back when and pretty much spent ALL my free time playing it. At the time I had an absolutely horrible job and was depressed, so the escapism it offered was a relief. Even playing it for hours every day, it still takes several weeks (months?) to finish a game. Version 3 came out and I played that for a while, but then I met Mike and life got busy. Eventually I found out that version 4 had come out, read the description and caved in to get it (these are cheap shareware games). I played it a couple of times and then set up a couple challenging scenarios that out-challenged/bored me so I stopped playing for a while (we also started househunting, which might have factored into the stoppage). The files were all still on my computer, but I was effectively ignoring them. Then this past summer I found out they are now on version 6. The itch started, and eventually I gave in a revisited those two challenging scenarios that I had given up on. One of them turned out to be pretty easy, but still has sucked up all my free time and not-so-free time since October. I only just finished the game.

Now I am faced with a dilemma. I cannot let myself get sucked into this game again after we start a family. It is not possible to play for 10 or 15 minutes, I’ve tried many a time, the minimum sitting is more like 30 minutes. And I know myself and my history: I get sucked in and neglect other things in my life. The obvious solution is to delete all the files from my computer, right? But what if I get the itch to play a game like this again? Can I trust myself to be strong enough for a couple decades to not give in? Or would it be better to leave the game on my computer with all my hints, guides, and notes so that I don’t risk starting something new from scratch? I’ve been thinking about it for a couple of days and I’m going back and forth. I could honestly use third-party perspective on this.

But while I decide what to do about the time-suck that took my free time after cutting back on TV, I will enjoy playing with my reward for cutting back on TV anyway: a small electric chipper/shredder. After all, I did meet the explicit goal, and implicit goals only count if the explicit goal failed.

Posted January 31, 2012 by mayakey in goals, musings, self-care

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