Sunday, December 17, 2006

New Readers

Linda Pruitt here to speak straight to some of you new readers who may be wondering how to become a contributor! If you would like to submit your writing to our blog contact me at mamasays942@hotmail.com and I will send you the invite. I look forward to hearing from all of you!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Growing up

My daughter has exquisite diction. Always verbally precocious she is on the fast track to being a masterful linguist. She is already a really strong reader and sharp speller...But even at four and a half there is one word she doesn't pronounce correctly and it is consistently one of my most delicious mama moments to listen to her say this word. It is the morning meal. It is what she calls "brek-fixt". In conversation the other day however she did indeed say with perfect composure "breakfast". A little something burst in my heart. What? What did she say?

I looked at her with a crumbly weepy feeling taking over. And then "brek-fixt" was back. I did not imagine it. She did say it correctly just once but once was enough.

Oh, brek-fixt, please don't go away.....

Monday, November 27, 2006

Writing and Motherhood by Annie Downey

Writing & Motherhood
by Annie Downey
All rights reserved, Annie Downey, 2006


I remember the first thing I ever wrote about being a mother. I was eighteen years old, my daughter, Iris, was eight months old. We had a tiny one bedroom apartment in downtown Burlington. I had just begun my first semester at college and had signed up for a creative writing class. Our first bit of homework was one of those basic “How to ___” writing assignments. Classmates shared their ideas aloud—one hip-dressed student said she was going to write about how to make an Orgasm (like the drink!)—another student chirped up and said that he was going to write about how to get a hot guy in the sack. Everyone laughed. I remember being panicked about what I would write about.


My professor said to me, “Write about what you know.”


I went and picked up my daughter at the college daycare. As I pushed her stroller up the street to our apartment, I thought about how boring and dull my life would seem to my college classmates. At the same time I didn’t want their lives of endless partying and fast relationships. I liked being a mother, I liked the safety of it, and, I knew I was good at it. I liked the weight of my daughter on my hip, I liked nursing her, I liked folding her little baby clothes at the laundry mat, I liked mashing up food for her, and I loved giving her a bath, changing her diaper, and reading her stories. I enjoyed it.


After I put my daughter, Iris, to bed that night, I sat down to write. The words
flew out of me. It was something I hadn’t felt in a long time—me—alone—just me. And I
was O.K.. Typically, because I couldn’t stand the loneliness of the night, I would leave
most of the lights on in the apartment and go to bed along with Iris. But that night, while
writing my assignment, I felt cozy and good. I didn’t feel alone. I had words for company. When I finished the rough draft, I turned off the lights in the apartment and went to sleep.


When the next class rolled around and I shared “How to Change a Poopy Diaper”, the class loved it, and thought it was hilarious. It was so exhilarating to be both seen and heard by a room full of people. By incorporating my mothering experience with my writing—my first writing class became a place for me to share my stories of single motherhood which lessened my own feelings of isolation and I made me a happier mother, which, in turn, benefited my daughter. By creating a venue in which to share my joy of my daughter with other people (something I had always imagined married couples shared), I was able to also claim my own identity as a writer without feeling I was leaving my daughter, Iris, behind. At that time, I felt I couldn’t do anything that somehow didn’t include her without feeling tremendous anxiety and guilt. If I wrote “our” story, then those feelings wouldn’t tug at me— extinguishing the page—and thus extinguishing this new found freedom to become what I wanted outside of motherhood.


So, I began to write…I wrote everyday in my journal, I wrote poems, I wrote short stories, and I wrote essays. I wrote through a rocky relationship, another baby, and a break-up. I wrote through graduation from college, court processes, my mother’s illness, and a new marriage that has had its ups and downs. Writing has been my companion— my one other relationship— besides the relationship I have with my children— that has remained consistent and unwavering. I am always loyal to it.

Now that my children are older (my daughter now in her senior year at high school and my son in middle school) and are developing their own amazing identities—beginning to get a sense of their own crazy ideals and dreams—their own story—it is easier for me to allow them to do just that. It is easier to be at peace with them flying in and out of this little colorful nest of mine because of writing. Because I have been able to slowly claim my own identity that goes beyond being their mother—a part of my life that doesn’t necessarily always have to involve them—that doesn’t have to be “our” story—but is “my” story— that occasionally (when allowed and if invited) is intermingled with theirs.*

Sunday, October 22, 2006

A Calamity of Errors, Judgments, and the 167 dollar poop

We should’ve known.

You know when you have that sinking feeling about something, but fail to acknowledge or mention it? As my husband and I scrambled around, getting ready for a trip to Montreal with our 19 month old, she tried her new trick, sliding off a dining room chair. Only this time she had on slippery fleece pants and socks. She slipped right from the chair with a sickening thud, and onto our hardwood floor, face first. Her shrieks echoed in our small home, and I ran to her just in time to see blood in her mouth, her lips and nose growing puffier by the second. Kurt, my husband was in the shower. “Kurt! I yelled, I need you!” She cried and cried, leaning into me and whimpering. At that moment, both my husband and I were thinking: We shouldn’t go up to Montr√©al. Just had that feeling that we should bag the trip. But our logical, reasonable selves won out, because of course, now she was happily looking at my necklace, and toddlers fall all the time, we know. Error in judgment number one.

So we pulled out of our driveway and began the trip. My girl falls asleep almost instantly, and we were in business. See, we planned that she could have her nap while we drove the 2 and a half hours to Montreal. We had to make a few small stops to get a few things we needed (swimmy diapers for the hotel pool), but surely she would sleep through that. Error in Judgment number two.

She woke up after 20 minutes, and stayed awake the entire trip. We knew we were in trouble. Meanwhile, it begins to rain. And rain and rain.

We arrive in Montreal, and find our hotel no problem. We gather our ridiculous amount of baby gear, food and stuff and schlep it to our room. It is a beautiful room, just like online, with a kitchen, a dining room table, and a king bed. But something smells kind of like old people, a grandparent’s home from the 1950s, say, and we can’t put our finger on it.

We go out for a walk in the pouring rain, and the streets are filled with people getting off from work. We swerve in and out of people, stroller, huge umbrella, avoiding large puddles and aggressive city folk. This serves to over stimulate the Miss Tired Girl even more, which we do not realize. Error number three.

We come back in, and Kurt heads out to find an ATM. I take my girl up to the room, and notice the sign. It says: This floor is reserved for our smoking guests. I clearly requested a nonsmoking room when I made the reservation online. No wonder the room smelled like old socks. Mistake number four.

When I call down to the hotel clerk, after being on hold for 10 minutes, they tell me there are no other rooms left, and I had not requested a nonsmoking room. OKAY. We decide to stay anyway, despite the fact that I have a tacky throat, and my eyes burn a bit. Meanwhile, Addy keeps grabbing the stroller, and heading for the door. “Walk? Walk?” She says. “No honey, we are going to stay in here.” Not happy.

Miss Fussy begins many more moments of unhappiness. She falls on the floor again, cried and cries, and is finally calmed down. Only wants a few pieces of Veggie Booty for dinner. This is getting worse.

We bathe her, read to her and begin to settle her into her pack and play. We turn off almost all of the lights, scurry to the other side of the room, and eat our take out pizza in the dark. I have had FOUR bites when my girl stands up in the pack and play, and starts saying, “mommy, mommy, mommy…” I tell her to lie down and go to sleep. No avail. This continues for about a half hour. Then Kurt tried to lay her down. She stays for a few minutes and we silent high five. Premature. She pops up, “mommy, mommy, mommy….” I go to her, and here it is folks, she’s pooped. No one can sleep with poopy pants, right? Some lights go on, we change her, and then try to put her back down. She knows the deal now, and is wide awake. That passed tired, delirious, I’ll never sleep again awake, and we know we are completely screwed. We try all lights out cuddling in bed, and almost get her to sleep, but not quite. She cries every time we even suggest the crib.

Then she walks to the door herself, she’s had enough of this smelly place and opens the door (we thought it was locked). She finds it heavy, and promptly closes it right on her fingers. Instant, and earth shatteringly loud shrieks cloud our small room in hell.

There is no turning back. Her fingers are fine. It’s just her ridiculously tried, cranky and out of her element self that is inconsolable. She cries when walk around. She cries when we read to her. She cries when I sing and rock her.

My husband and I don’t believe in TV. We have no cable, and our daughter hasn’t watched more than 5 minutes of television in her whole life. But we love watching it, us adults, as a treat sometimes. Exasperated, and exhausted, we turn it on. This will surely put her to sleep, we think, boring TV drama. Mistake number, oh hell, should I even count anymore?

She watches for 40 minutes, and I feel like a failure parent the whole time. My heart sinks as I watch her eyes dull over but stay wide awake. Finally, we decide the whole family will get into the big bed, turn off all the lights and TV, and truly go to sleep. She will cuddle in and fall happily asleep, and then tomorrow we can take her to the Biodome as planned, then put her down for a nap, then go out for a nice, Montreal dinner. Yes!

All except that she won’t even lie down. We try to bring her into bed, and she protests, screaming. I try rocking, walking, singing. Nothing. An hour passes of what is wrong with her? What are we going to do? Is this room toxic? Are we damaging our little girl? My eyes fill with tears. Our last family vacation, before our next little baby comes, is slipping away. I become as upset as she is, which only makes things worse. My head pounds, and we struggle in the dark.

Finally, Kurt has had it. “Let’s just go home,” he says. I let it sink in. Spend 130 dollars for a hotel room that we don’t stay in? 30 dollars for pizza I didn’t have time to eat? Or simply watch my girl suffer and scream all night? After a few more minutes (which feel like years), when he says it again, I say alright. Lights on, my girl still screaming, Kurt begins compressing our lives into bags again, and half and hour later, we head for the lobby. When I open the hotel room door, I sense a change in her. She quiets for a moment, then cries again, but not as loud.

I wait for the car, as all the people in the lobby are treated to the cries of our toddler. I pace, and think how bad things can get, really fast. The car appears, I put her in her seat, and Kurt starts checking out. She sits in her seat, says, “Home………..Home.” Breathes deeply and falls right to sleep, instantly.

All I can think is you’ve got to be kidding me. I watch as a family enters the hotel. Toddler and baby in toe. THEY can do it. Why can’t we? What were we missing? What did we do wrong?

Of course, it is pouring rain. Endless rain, to match my mood. We start the drive home at 10 pm. It pours the entire time, and I struggle to keep us on the road. At the border, when they ask for my ID, I hand him my credit card. I can barely remember my name, citizenship, and job. How exactly is it that I should be driving?

We make it home shortly before 1 am. I drag myself to bed and lie down. One of Addy’s favorite expressions is "Oh well, it happens". I think, I am not quite there yet, but maybe after some sleep, I will be able to say that tomorrow.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Speak My Language

This morning Sophia had a lengthy talking to with her favorite homemade paper bag puppet, Butterfingers Pinky-Mouth. B.P.M. scolds back in a Grungetta from Sesame Street cadence. This is not because she has watched Sesame Street but because sounding like Grungetta when exasperated may be genetically predisposed. (You can pretend it is from my husband's side.) Sophia was insisting that BPM "speak English" so she could understand him/her?... Finally at the height of the exchange she leaned over and whispered to the puppet which did the trick. When she careened over to the kitchen sink I asked what they were talking about. She explained she just had to whisper to teach how to speak to Butterfingers. She was satisfied that they had a thourough understanding.

Hmmm. Is this perhaps beacuse when I sound like Grungetta, Sophia does not process my words but if I get up close and whisper I have a beter shot? Oy.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Mama Says Update: I'm Off

This is my last post. I will no longer be on Mama Says. Any further questions should be directed to LindaP: mamasays942(@)hotmail(dot)com


For all the subscribers and faithful readers: Thank you so much for your support.
I will be deleting the subscription service and handing it over to LindaP for re-activation. There may be a gap of time in between. If you have any questions about that, please contact her.

Again, I feel I have done what I could for Mama Says and it's time to move on.
You can find me at my blog, always Writing In The Mountains.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Just A Reminder

Jesse Ahee's "With Child" exhibit will be at The Cheshire Cat in Montpelier, Vt for the Art Walk, Friday September 29th, 4-8 p.m.

Check it out!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Mama Says Commercial Free Kids

On the heels of Kris U's post it seems like the perfect time to unveil the project Mama Says Action has in the works. We are starting a local chapter of Campaign for a commercial Free Childhood. I have been in contact with them and have some events and meetings on board. BUT because I want this blog to be only for creative work I encourage you to follow links to our Yahoo newsgroup for more details.Also Times Argus September first issue published my letter on this topic- check it out at library...

Mama is at work on line illegally- got to go

Friday, September 01, 2006

Mama Says Update

Thank you to Kris U for all her work on the blog. Yes of course I, Linda will keep cranking. I have been doing Mama Says for two and a half years now and some of the projects on the horizon are the most exciting yet...

Kris's departure means I will return the blog to its original intent as an online version of the print newsletter. In other words it is a showcase for creative work-- poetry, reflective essays, creative pieces of length (no maximum word counts, plenty of space). One of the features I would most like to revisit is the "Interview with a Local Mama" which was so popular in print. Please get out there and talk to a mama you love and write her up for us with pictures, art etc.

Some of the bloggy flash will remain in terms of sidebar but this has always been about the power of each mamas voice. I want very much to return to that essence now.

I can't wait to share with you the amazing projects the political action circle is working on. I can't wait to hear from you, in your words, simply.

With mama love, Linda P

Mama Says Update

So, You may have noticed that alot of the sidebar is missing. Mama Says is being overhauled as I write.

I feel I have done what I could for Mama Says and that it's now time to move on. Whoever would like to pick it up from here, is more than welcome. (most likely LindaP)

I will be moving to another site later in the month (here). In the meantime, I will be reorganizing Mama Says and building my new site. All of my old posts from Mama Says will be on the new site as well as new material.


To our subscribers: Do not fear! You will stay on as such to Mama Says.

All the writing will stay as is on M.S., all the archives will be there and everybody who is on will still be able to post.

I will update as new things come along.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Mama Says Announcement

Jesse Ahee's painting exhibit: 'With Child', featuring works of her daughter during pregnancy, has been extended another full month at Gifford Medical Center in Randolph. Go check it out if you can!
If you can't make it to Randolph, it will also be exhibited in Montpelier at Cheshire Cat for the Art Walk on September 29.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Articles and Posts of Note:Mothers Movement Online

Mothers Movement Online Articles

Birth, Choices:Melissa Wilkins

An excellent article on demedicalizing the birth process.

Reviving the Feminine Mystique: Judith Stadtman-Tucker

Just a quick thought: It occurs to me that Betty Friedan's quote in 1985 (featured in the Stadtman-Tucker article) is purely right-on. I don't know if we will ever see something like the original Women's Movement or Civil Rights Movement again in our lives. This country would probably fall first before any of that happens.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Kind Words for Mama Says

Many thanks to Annie Downey for the kind words about Mama Says!

Check out where this Hot and Bothered author will be in the coming months for book signings and other events!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Mama At the Movies: The Libertine

Mama At The Movies: One Non-Family Movie at A Time
“Enough of this Disney crap and singing chipmunks…I need some real movies!!!!”

The Libertine

I can’t remember the last time I actually saw a movie at the theatre. I think it may have been The Last Samurai with Tom Cruise before he turned Christian Scientist wingnut. I thought that was an excellent movie despite him being in it.

So, last night I saw the movie The Libertine (after The Girl's bedtime, obviously) with the fabulous Johnny Depp. I picked it up on a whim only knowing that it was about John Wilmot, the 2nd Earl of Rochester and Samantha Morton (of Jane Eyre) was in it.

It was released in 2004, and I never heard a peep about it. I can understand why: the movie is dark, gritty, the Earl of Rochester is downright ugly and grotesque in every manner imaginable (‘You will not like me’), there is content in the movie that absolutely would not appeal to the mainstreamer: there are no gaudy, drawn out battle scenes; no predictable, formulaic plot and dialogue, no clear cut hero/heroine.

I have longed to see Johnny Depp in a role such as this.

A lot of people thought this movie ‘boring’, ‘slow’, ‘one of Depp’s worst performances, if not the worst’.

Here’s what Seattlep.i.’s Arts and Entertainment had to say about it:

“Depp has a flash or two of charisma, but this may be his all-time worst performance. He can't convey anything going on in the character's mind beyond cynicism, his meditations on life and art all ring false, and there's just nothing to like about the guy.
Visually, the film is unpleasantly murky and claustrophobic, and its historical texture is thin. Like too many stage adaptations, the script is unnecessarily talky, and the first-time direction of Laurence Dunmore is flat and weak.
Despite its title, the movie could hardly be less erotic. Indeed, promiscuity has never looked more totally unappealing, and its final scenes of Wilmot's advanced venereal disease are enough to make you take a vow of celibacy. A great date movie, this is not.”

Wilmot was cynical, that is what the entire character is built upon. In the beginning of the movie, Wilmot does in fact say: ‘You will not like me.’ This is not a likable character by far, as it was intended. I believe it was further intended to be grainy and murky as well as claustrophobic-it’s called building mood. Also, this period in history was muddy and dark-they were dealing with The Plague epidemic for a year or so, decidedly on a much smaller scale than in the 14th Century; King Charles II was on the throne, the Restoration movement was happening, of course religion was an issue.
As for ‘meditations of life and art all ring false’, I beg to differ. The fact that this writer would even consider saying this is not ‘a great date movie’ further proves the lack of judgment for seeing what this movie really is.

The scenes in which Wilmot was dying of ‘the pox’ were undeniably hideous, yet so well played out-you could not help but look. Depp was so absolutely feral in the role. Normally, when I watch a movie, I get distracted by what is going on behind the scenes. For instance, What was that actor thinking when kissing Hugh Grant? Grin and bear it, or what? Or, if there is a scene where it is raining, I think: they’re using a hose for that aren’t they? Another one that comes up, usually during a period movie battle scene, when there are hordes of men running full-speed to the other end of the field: What are they thinking as they are running and screaming?

I did not do this with The Libertine, but once, when I squealed out: Samantha Morton must be thinking: “I just kissed Johnny Depp, the sexiest man alive!!!” Other than that, I fell completely into the movie. A rarity considering I could ruin a perfectly good movie for someone else (or myself) with my backstage comments.

Call me weird, even snobbish, but I thought this was one of Depp’s better performances. This movie is definitely not for the faint of heart, and not for the mainstreamers. If you could not decipher the dialogue, or thought it ‘too talky’ and boring, then let me suggest the latest Rob Schneider movie, or perhaps Snakes On A Plane.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Hey, I'm Over Here!

My piece about sleep deprivation is up over at The Whole Mom
Go on over and check it out!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Articles and Posts of Note :CNN, How Your Child Learns

Check this out.

We all know kids learn differently. At least, we should know this.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Articles and Posts of Note: Yahoo! Post-Partum Depression in Dads?

Uh, yeah...I don't know quite what to think of this one. Post-Partum Depression in men that are Dads?

This is just a guess, but I think-hmmm-yes, I think it may have something to do with hormones, actually.
(Really??? No.....)

Is it any surprise, too, that both of the people they have chosen to quote are both men?

Here are some snippets:

Fathers usually feel elation after a birth, Coleman said, but that feeling of "engrossment" can fade away, depending on family circumstances.

That can happen "if the mother is very, very controlling and wants the baby all to herself," Coleman said. "Also, fathers can experience frustration, sexual and emotional, if they forget to remember that the wife is not interested in sex at that time. If the wife is very motherly and maternal, he might feel kind of useless, on the periphery."


Depression in a father leads to a well-known pattern of behavior, Coleman said. "He tends to work longer, to watch sports more, to drink more and be solitary," he said.

If they forget to remember?

Alright, I don't doubt men feel alone, neglected, ostracized, ignored, and -dare I say it-sexually starved.

The attention has shifted. The roles of Motherhood and Fatherhood are, indeed, different and difficult at times. In some cultures, the father isn't even involved until after the child is weaned.

I also don't doubt that the father feels and experiences some sort of depression after a baby is born. It is a huge change. But I wouldn't call it postpartum depression.


Articles and Posts of Note: Writing Time: Another Take on the Personal Essay

Writing Time is just a great site in itself. For all the (mama) writers out there, check out the Personal Essay post.

Enjoy!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Articles and Posts of Note: Yahoo! Co-sleeping

I found this article about co-sleeping on Yahoo! today.

Didn't the American Academy of Pediatrics (and Dentistry) at one point make a deal with Coca-cola to research funding a few years back? Whew. When I first read this, my immediate reaction was: How Ironic.

Why is it that the media and all these certified 'organizations' tell us what is right for our children, and make us feel guilty if we are not following the guidelines?

Perhaps co-sleeping is right for some and not for others. I am all for the co-sleeping. It has seen me through alot of nursing nights when The Girl was just a wee babe and it enabled me to get some much needed sleep. She doesn't nurse much during the night these days and we still happily co-sleep.

Poem: Loss, Without Regret

Now, a name
Among millions
She sits without regret.
Still, the dreams persist:
Of love, of loss and gain

Reclaiming the child
Only to give it up
Again and again.

Through all attempts
The wound
Already a year and a half old,
Has refused to heal.

She sits through all attempts
Without regrets
Reclaiming the child
Of love and loss
Already a year and a half old
Only to give it up again and again
As the dreams persist.

Posts and Articles of Note: Sam Kolber's 'Jewel Tones'

Perhaps this is a little bit of shameless promotion, but check out Sam's pantoum, Jewel Tones. It's rhythmic-trancy and just well-written. I love it. I am jealous. I could never turn out a strict form poem so well. I suppose that will be a challenge to face. Try writing one and see how it goes. Sam gives an outline of the form on her site.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Savory Bites

From Sam’s previous post:

I bet I will go ahead and shower, but not before eating chocolate for breakfast. Sure, I could eat yogurt, a bagel, cereal, or a banana for a more healthy breakfast, but those don’t seem to fill my need, or stuff it down is more like it.

This inspired me to write a little something on FOOD.
It feels like I don’t have time to enjoy my breakfast or snack, double Latte, or even a plain old cup of black strong coffee.

Nothing tastes good to me anymore.

While The Girl is eating dinner (sweet potatoes tonight), I’m writing (as I am now), or doing some dishes (hey- I said some), or putting a weeks (or so) worth of laundry away finally.

My snacks are less than tasty, sometimes, and can end up being my dinner (i.e. Chocolate or cookies, a single banana or spaghetti for the third day in a row), or ‘well, at least I ate something.’ That last one appears quite often.

And coffee-oh coffee. I down so much of this stuff, I don’t even feel the buzz anymore. I should be bouncing off the goddamn walls. This could account for my sleep problem of late, eh? Part of it, anyway…

Everything is just so on-the-go these days. Even as we sit down to a meal: I scarf down whatever it is we are eating without even a thought of really enjoying the food; I’m too busy seeing if The Girl needs anything, or picking up food she dropped, or the spoon she threw, or whatever. We are always moving, moving, moving: to the library, going on our walk, doctor’s appointments, and errands. So much to do all the time. Much of society is like this, to put it in a broader perspective, always moving.

How did this happen?

How did I stop enjoying the taste of food? How did I stop taking pleasure in every bite? How did it get to the point of ‘at least I ate something today’?

I don’t know. Perhaps we all just need to stop, slow down and breathe once in awhile.


Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.
Hey-most of us know where this is from…
Ferris Beuller’s Day Off

Sort of a long, terribly rambly kind of post….oh well.

Excerpt from Sam's Computer Journal

25 July 2006
“Everything is purple. Why everything that is purple is purple through these glasses?” Emmett says as he wears fuchsia-colored batgirl glasses. Now he is whining about putting on a movie for him, and I don’t know why I haven’t been enjoying my motherhood role lately. I really haven’t been enjoying anything lately. And his incessant whining and power struggles don’t help. All he wants to wear is pajamas, day in and day out, so when I say it’s time to get dressed in the morning, it becomes a huge power struggle between us because I just recently made a rule against wearing pajamas all day long, especially to day-care. Now that I am at the computer with my fingers running over the keyboard I don’t want to stop; it’s reminding me how much I need to write, I crave to write, even if I just write about nothing…even if Emmett is climbing onto my lap chanting about “Stop, Look and Listen,” a Blues Clues episode he wants me to put in the VCR. When I finally stop, look and listen to him, he looks me in the eyes, his steel, green eyes so focused, and asks in a sweet voice, “Can you please put Stop, Look and Listen on please?” How can I resist? Especially since I know it will buy me more time for myself. I usually shower as he watches a morning video, but now I want to write something. I bet instead, since I am not feeling any inspiration to write anything specific, I bet I will go ahead and shower, but not before eating chocolate for breakfast. Sure, I could eat yogurt, a bagel, cereal, or a banana for a more healthy breakfast, but those don’t seem to fill my need, or stuff it down is more like it. I am disappearing into the real world, my writer self at odds with my need for financial stability, survival, ability to provide for my child. I am so angry I can’t rely on my creativity to make any money. I know I can if I can focus, but I just can’t focus. I am overwhelmed, depressed, not good. According to Steve in Blues Clues, I just need to “sit down in my thinking chair and think, think thiiiink. “ Because I can do anything that I want to do. If only I knew what I wanted to do.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Changing Directions: On Writing/Journaling

You can also see this on The Whole Mom

(Preface: I know this is a long one, but please, take the time to read it)


I write regularly in my journal. I take that back-I used to write regularly in my journal. This past year, I have gone from being a faithful, detailed, everyday journal keeper to writing a sporadic, intermittent mix of half coherent fragments from the day. When I wrote on a regular basis, I could easily fill a two hundred page hard-bound journal within a month or less. These days, it takes me a disappointing four months to finish a book with the same amount of pages. In the new journal I recently started, I write half sentences, ideas that go nowhere, fragments of events that I wanted to record, all left hanging in mid-sentences.

These days, I find I put most of my journaling energy into the Mama Says blog. That, in a sense, has become my journal. However, I am not completely satisfied with this. I don’t want it to become my journal. A journal, to me, is something that is personal, a place where I can let it all out, stuff that I would never share with other mothers, let alone the world; a place where I can work through my crap ( definitely much cheaper than a psychiatrist!).

In this age of computer laptop journals, live journals and the blogosphere, I still prefer to draft things out with paper and pen. My handwriting is still decipherable, not yet reduced to chicken scratch. Besides that, I just love the feel of pen in hand. I don’t know why, but it seems I can put things together more efficiently that way. Plus, I’m a doodler. I like to scribble all over the page, cross out words and whole sentences, make squiggly arrows directing this sentence or paragraph to go all the way to the top (or bottom). After what seems to be sufficient doodling, I can go to the computer and make the final draft. I’ve always done that with poetry as well.
For me, journaling is a ritualistic process, I write out the drafts over and over, replacing this word here and that word there. There is a certain meditation in actual writing with pen and paper that cannot be found in banging out words on the computer. The blue-glow of the computer monitor can surely trance me out, but it’s just not the same.

I could say that most of my energy for journaling has been sapped by my two-year old running around the house. But it’s just not true. In fact, it’s just the opposite: she is my daily inspiration in many things, including writing. I turn out posts on a near-daily basis for the blog; some consisting of entire pages that could be turned into a possible articles. I just don’t have the interest for journaling right now. Never in my life did I think that would be an issue. Not me, the one with 40-plus full hard-bound journals and countless notebooks; the one who could never bear to skip a day, letting it go by unrecorded; the one who had to fill the page to capacity. Surely, I could never lose interest? I can’t even believe that’s what it’s come down to, but there it is.

These are the years of my daughter’s childhood. I feel I should be recording every little thing she does: new developments, what she’s feeling, how she reacted to the bug that dropped from the tree onto her sleeve. Will I look back on this time in my life and wish I had written more? Will I feel a certain sort of regret at what I didn’t record?
When I look back now on the journals from when I was pregnant with my daughter, I find myself wishing I had written a more detailed account of that experience; and I do feel something akin to regret at not writing more about it.



Perhaps I just need to accept the fact that it’s alright to not be interested in journaling at times. Right now there are plenty of other things in my life that require my attention. It’s not as if I won’t ever journal again. Perhaps it is the style of journaling familiar to me that is changing. Perhaps I am changing. Perhaps I just need to accept that as well. After all, life changes just as the wind changes directions.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

An Assortment of Posts

Mother's Movement Online Articles:
  • 'Time to Kiss the Mommy Wars Goodbye' -Tracy Thompson

  • 'Everybody Hates Linda'-Judith Stadtman Tucker

A Mommy With An Attitude:
  • 'What the Hell Is Caitlin Flanagan Talking About? The Good, The Bad, And The Baffling!'


Motherhood Uncensored:




'The Hardships of Being a Mom to a Special Needs Child' on the Whole Mom, Laura J.

From Shape of a Mother:

Mom-101:


Poet Tree (Sam Kolber):
False 45th:
Finslippy:
Yahoo!
Didn't the American Academy of Pediatrics (and Dentistry) at one point make a deal with Coca-cola to research funding a few years back? Whew. When I first read this, my immediate reaction was: How Ironic.

Why is it that the media and all these certified 'organizations' tell us what is right for our children, and make us feel guilty if we are not following the guidelines?

Perhaps co-sleeping is right for some and not for others. I am all for the co-sleeping. It has seen me through alot of nursing nights when The Girl was just a wee babe and it enabled me to get some much needed sleep. She doesn't nurse much during the night these days and we still happily co-sleep.

Uh, yeah...I don't know quite what to think of this one. Post-Partum Depression in men that are Dads?
This is just a guess, but I think-hmmm-yes, I think it may have something to do with hormones, actually.
(Really??? No.....)
Is it any surprise, too, that both of the people they have chosen to quote are both men?
Here are some snippets:
Fathers usually feel elation after a birth, Coleman said, but that feeling of "engrossment" can fade away, depending on family circumstances.
That can happen "if the mother is very, very controlling and wants the baby all to herself," Coleman said. "Also, fathers can experience frustration, sexual and emotional, if they forget to remember that the wife is not interested in sex at that time. If the wife is very motherly and maternal, he might feel kind of useless, on the periphery."

Depression in a father leads to a well-known pattern of behavior, Coleman said. "He tends to work longer, to watch sports more, to drink more and be solitary," he said.
If they forget to remember?
Alright, I don't doubt men feel alone, neglected, ostracized, ignored, and -dare I say it-sexually starved.
The attention has shifted. The roles of Motherhood and Fatherhood are, indeed, different and difficult at times. In some cultures, the father isn't even involved until after the child is weaned.
I also don't doubt that the father feels and experiences some sort of depression after a baby is born. It is a huge change. But I wouldn't call it postpartum depression.



Writing Time

Sleepy, Sleepy

(written Sunday, Aug 6, 2006)

A couple months ago, I wrote this post about sleep issues.

It appears there is another sleep issue afoot: I'm having trouble going to sleep. The completely opposite spectrum to that last post.

I just can't go to sleep. I do eventually, but not until 1, 2 and sometimes 3 in the morning and after much tossing and turning. I think as I'm laying there trying to sleep: 'I'd like a snack', or 'Goddamn it, I have to go to the bathroom', or 'I have to write something down', or(more commonly) 'I just don't want to go to sleep'.

I can't even bring myself to take a nap with my daughter, eventhough it would be the sane thing to do, as my body screams !Sleep!
I just can't do it.
She naps as I write this. Which means, obviously, I am not napping.

Could this be a psychological thing? Perhaps. What isn't these days?
Perhaps it is just the weather. Doubt that one a bit, though it has been hot....

This seems to run in cycles: sleeping at 7 p.m. and practically not sleeping at all.
Is it just the cycle of a mother, or am I reading too much into things?

Am I asking too many questions?

Passengers

Lately, we cannot leave the house without The Girl frantically running around, scanning the possibilities of what to grab on the way out: baby dolls, blankets, clothes, anything that is within her sight.

This is not confined to leaving the house. It also occurrs when travelling from room to room within the house. She will scoop up everything she can get her hands on before leaving the room.
I've heard this stage called the Packrat Phase. I can see that. It makes sense.

So, now that the Packrat is in full force, we have passengers coming along on our walks regularly: Baby Beans, The Pink Doll (she doesn't really have a name yet), the occasional teddy and cow. They all fit snugly in the stroller, flanking The Girl; all content in this new phase, just along for the ride as passengers.

Monday, August 07, 2006

A Local Mama: Maple Mama

I just wanted to point out Maple Mama's blog.

She's a local mama, her blog is fairly new with excellent content.
Check out her BabyTalk review/thoughts!
Plus, great "TechBlog" stuff. Find out how to make a button with the brilliant button maker!!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Coffee!!! Sounds Good To Me!

While on my bloggin adventures, I came across this site.

Mmm, Mmm, Good!!
Yummy recipes, coffee, and beyond!!
What mama doesn't need a good cup o' coffee?
Enjoy!

Check Out These Links

ALACE: Association of Labor Assistants & Childbirth
Educators List of home birth midwives and doulas in
Vermont

vtmidwives.org: a list of practicing midwives in our region.

Lists of questions to ask potential providers:
Childbirth.org
socialbirth.org
mother-care.ca
estronaut.com


Thanks to Laura Peer for the links!

I'll also be putting these up on the Link Page in a few days.

Monday, July 31, 2006

As If You Weren’t Manly Enough: Doing the One-Handed Stroller Shuffle

Today, The Girl and I were on our daily walk. We crossed to the other side of the street (using the crosswalk, of course), and I see this Man walking towards us, strolling around his baby, doing the one-handed, side-step thing.

I’m sure all of you know what I am talking about:
You know-pushing the stroller with baby inside using just one muscular, manly hand while walking to the side of it.

Why is it that men have to do the one-handed stroller thing?

What is this?!

I just don’t understand.

Would your ‘manlihood’ be somehow diminished if you took to the stroller with both hands? Is it some form of ‘detachment parenting’? Or a purely unconscious action in not being able to accept responsibility of the child? What?

Not all men do this, but I’ve seen enough of it to get me thinking about this subject.

Just thinking out loud….

Friday, July 28, 2006

Breastfeeding in PUBLIC?!?!!? And on The Cover of a MAGAZINE?????!!!!

Okay. So I saw this here article on CNN today. It was also mentioned in the mamasays newsgroup.
Okay.

"I was shocked to see a giant breast on the cover of your magazine." One says.

You must be equally shocked, then, to see your own breast while nursing your own child.

In truth, this whole 'uproar' doesn't surprise me at all. We are 'talking' about BabyTalk magazine here. It is very mainstream. You are more likely to find that in most doctor's offices than Mothering, where you see breastfeeding babes all over the place, unabashedly.

"A breast is a breast. It's a sexual thing." One Texan woman says.

Hey, I didn't know they were just sexual!!!

The editor of BabyTalk made a comment that strikes to the core of it all:
"There's a huge Puritanical streak in America..."

If that ain't the truth, I don't know what is.

Anyone else care to respond??? An open invitation......

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Articles and Posts of Note #3

Mom-101: Eat It, Sears: Getting your bed back!!! Hurrah!!


Finslippy: And here I thought the suburbs were boring
Crazy babysitters on the loose.

False 45th: Performance Art Update
Not Mama-oriented whatsoever. But. Check out the 'mysterious one' at the Farmers Market in Montpelier. This was, by far, way better than last weekend's costume.

Anagram Server: This is awesome. Have fun.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Time Check

There was a time when I saw with clarity to the fathomless bottom of deep pools. Every drop of water was charged with meaning and intention. I found my way with ease to the very core of these dark watery places and swam and sat and listened and rode on the power of my breath until I surfaced with all of the messages I had received. My fingers strung beads or passed over the cards or pulled back from the flickering flame and I understood. I passed in and out and between. This was a time out of time. Moments flowed together seamlessly. These were my foundation.

Now I wake up and step in cat shit. I scowl at inanimate objects strewn around my home. I am hoarse with repetion of the same pleas, directions, imperatives and expletives.

Have mercy on the mama having her Saturn Return....

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Articles and Posts of Note #2

Motherhood Uncensored on The Whole Mom: Essay, Having It All.

The Hardships of Being A Mom To A Special Needs Child, on The Whole Mom

This post on The Shape of a Mother made me nearly bawl my eyes out. Wishing much support and love to you.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Music For A Child

I’ve been on a major Santana kick lately. It’s all I listen to-aside from the soundtrack of Mary Poppins and The Wizard of Oz that have been running through my head. Maybe it’s that African-Latino sound that grabs my ear every so often, resulting in non-stop Santana binges.

It’s all the old stuff: Moonflower, Live at the Fillmore-’68, Abraxas, the third album (Toussaint L’Overture: amazing!), Shango. I listen to the somewhat new one as well: Supernatural. It’s the earlier stuff that makes me want to move, though. Those rhythms are so raw; they could give you shivers all through your body. How could you not dance to something like this?

The girl digs it too: she gets down with her funky dance. I have no idea where it came from.
She looks like some Voodoo Goddess channeling her ancestors. Given her ancestry, she might just be.

Santana was a big influence throughout my childhood. It was always playing, along with Jethro Tull, Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, The Guess Who and Heart among many others.
I have a very vivid memory of my father playing Shango on the record player (you know, when records were still pretty much in the mainstream). I’d dance only as a kid could: with crazy abandon, and sing. Oh yes. Belting it out only as a kid can: really loud and slightly off-key. In the center of that record was the likeness of ‘Shango’. I’d watch this Shango spinning round and round the incantations of music on the record player. Damn it was scary as a kid! Powerful, though: I could never stop looking at it. I can still see it in my head. Perhaps it has become a little distorted in my memory stores over the years. I don’t have the album and I can’t seem to find a picture of it. I bet if I look at it today, I’d say: That’s not so scary…who knows.

Too bad when the CD came out, there wasn’t any room for the Great Shango. You wouldn’t have even known he was part of the album, spinning and spinning, unless you knew of the record.

With all that said, I wonder sometimes how what kind of music I listen to (among other things) will influence my girl, what sort of memories the music will create for her.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Putting Myself On Boyfriend Probation

Around the time the girl turned 22 months, somebody said to me:

“I’m so glad you put yourself on boyfriend probation.”

I thought about this for a minute. It never really occurred to me that I have, but now that I think of it, I guess that’s exactly what happened. I must have made the decision somewhat unconsciously, shortly after my latest ex and I broke it off.

I will admit I haven’t had the best track record: druggies (not too hard core, but enough), alcoholics, Lunatics, born-again Christians, the ‘I found God’ types; although, those last two happened after we broke up, strangely enough. Let’s not forget the one with obsessive control issues.

Yes, I was in a-um-strange place myself at that time.

Shortly after I became pregnant, I had a wake-up call, a realization (that seems such a mild word-a thundercrack to the skull, maybe) that, looking back on it, seems so obvious, so simple: I cannot live my life as I once did. This became even more apparent once the girl actually squirmed herself into this world and my own.

No more could I stay out all night as I once did. No more could I drink myself stupid (while having obscene amounts of fun, of course). And-no more unbalanced men, as well as men in the ‘relationship’ area.

There is a whole other life I am responsible for. I came to the conclusion that there wasn’t room for these types of men in my life-and my daughter’s. I want her to feel safe, and loved. I want to be able to respect myself and my daughter enough to not get involved in the sort of chaos I once knew.

And, I do respect both of us enough, so much so that I put myself on Boyfriend Probation. Now whether that was conscious or unconscious, or some sort of survival mechanism, that’s another story.

Maybe someday I will meet a nice fellow that’s not into drugs or absolutely, legitimately crazy, but for now, I am very much content with being on Boyfriend Probation.

Monday, July 17, 2006

It's Hotter Than....(fill in the blank)

We haven't left the house in three days (mostly), due to the fact that it's been around 90 degrees . We've been deeply ensconsed within the fabulous air-conditioning, getting high off the fumes-just kidding.

The air is only in the bedroom, though, so The Girl has been running around in her diaper when we are not in the room. I've been trying to fill the day with activities to keep The Girl busy: reading books, Legos, COLORS (as she calls them)-crayons, coloring books, markers, notebooks to fill with Colors) and yes, movies.

Hey-I'm not going outdoors unless I absolutely have to. Even then, it's most likely to be when the sun has gone down.

One such occurrence came up, in the 'absolutely' department: Yesterday, I had to go to the grocery store. But that was it. We walk everywhere, so by the time we got halfway to the store (only a block and a half, if that) I had already abandoned the thought of a double iced Latte, however tasty it seemed.

We needed to get back to the Ice Cave, a.k.a. The House, pronto.

And you know, it's probably only going to get worse-the way global warming is going, among other things.
The maple sugaring buisness in Vermont has been ever so slowly moving North these past years, into Canada.

All I have to say is, it better rain soon.

Check this site out Now!

For anybody who is a Mother (in any way, shape or form)

You MUST check out this site:

The Shape of a Mother

Monday, July 10, 2006

Casting

It will be 2 years-on July 22-that my very pregnant belly was cast.

In the dead heat of summer, I patiently sat in my mother’s living room on a chair (not the most comfortable, but what is when you’re 9 months pregnant?), legs propped up on another chair, as my mother and Linda took turns in covering my torso with strips of casting. There was no air-conditioning, only box fans, window fans and the ceiling fan were going. Yeah, it was hot.

And, yes, there are pictures.

As the crust hardened and separated from my body, I could feel my baby girl rolling around inside-she was a very active tumbler from day one-and the beginnings of the Braxton-Hicks contractions, very slight, not close enough to go to the hospital by far, but still-there they were.

A very small baby shower (with only about 4 people) was held the same day. I was so glad (in retrospect and at the time) for the private atmosphere this provided. I imagine if it had been with the rest of my family (you know, all of them), it would have been a situation of slightly controlled chaos.

Technically, she was due to come into this world on August 7, you know, any minute. Well, that day came and went, obviously. That day turned into a week and a half- almost two weeks. When she finally did make her first appearance, I, of course, was in love. To be honest, I don’t even remember anybody else in the room except my daughter and I for at least the first half hour.

The cast from that day holds many different memories, some light, some dark:

I look at my now two year old daughter (where did the time go???) bouncing around, climbing on tables and then to the cast, back again, and think: dear god-this bouncing girl grew inside my body. Of course, awe strikes me dumb and all I can do is smile (after I tell her to get down off the table, three times). Who knew you could love someone this much?

I think about how I thought the situation I was in before and while I was pregnant was okay when, really, it was not. And, more accurately, I realized it was not okay and didn’t do anything about it till the last minute.

And, every once in awhile, I think about Rose C. She was there at the baby shower that day, looking fresh and pink-cheeked with her news, so overjoyed and positively glowing.

I picked up the Sunday paper a few days later and saw an article about a ‘Worcester woman dies in car crash’. I didn’t read it-only skimmed through the paper-, but I had this very distinct feeling that would not go away, knowing it was her.

With a phone call that strange space between life and death tightened for one spare moment and all I could think of was Life: hers, mine, the one growing inside of me, in her.



The cast now hangs on my wall, a blank canvas still, a symbol of all these things, of a difficult yet insanely blissful time in my life.

I have not been able, for one reason or the other, to give it any color or decoration. I wonder if it is because it already holds so many things, events, feelings,-still fresh in mind- that there is no need to decorate it at this point.

Still, it certainly deserves some kind of adornment. I feel something should be done with it, but I know not what.

Mothers Movement Online Articles

Two articles from Mothers Movement Online:

"Time To Kiss The 'Mommy Wars' Goodbye"
-Tracy Thompson
Maternally Challenged-her blog
Her official site

"Everybody Hates Linda" (Hirshman)
-Judith Stadtman Tucker

An Excerpt of Linda's thoughts:

"..women bear greater responsibility for closing the gender gap at the office and at home; remaining barriers to women's success in public life are mostly of their own making; business and government have no incentive to relieve economic and time pressures on working families; and the quickest fix for the women's leadership problem is training young women to make more strategic choices about education, careers and childbearing"

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Things We Notice Once We Become Parents

Things We Notice Once We Become Parents: Mary Poppins and The Wizard of Oz


Recently, my daughter has discovered Mary Poppins (‘pop’ as she calls it) and The Wizard of Oz.

It has, very literally, been years since I’ve seen either one. They were both iconic to my childhood. I was very nearly rabid about both of these classics, demanding to watch them over and over and over, driving my mother mad, no doubt; just adding two more entire movies to the soundtrack in her head. She could probably recite the two movies without any prompting these days for as much as I watched them.

In watching these standards with my daughter,-yes, we see a lot of movies, but we don’t have TV/cable, so it doesn’t seem as evil. Is that bad?- I am seeing things anew in both movies: the little details, dialogue becoming quite clear to my adult ear, rather than rushing through my child ear, picking out the rhythms to the songs, and random words like Supercalifragilisticexpealidocious (did I spell that right?). Having realizations such as ‘So that’s what they were saying all this time…’ and nodding my head in thoughtful comprehension. As well as the old question: So what is Mary Poppins? Is she a witch? And-what exactly is Mary and Bert’s relationship? How did they meet?!

There is one particular scene in The Wizard of Oz that really irked me this time around. Towards the end, when she is about to go home, Glinda the Good Witch asks Dorothy what she has learned. She replies with: "…If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.”

Okay. I understand ‘home is where the heart is’, and I do believe in family ties, keeping close to one’s family. Still, I found myself becoming increasingly annoyed at these last lines Dorothy speaks. I also understand that this was filmed in 1939 and the first book in the series was written in 1900. Women had acquired the right to vote barely 20 years when the movie was made. They (We) were still expected to be docile creatures and stay at home, tending the kids and hearth. God forbid if you should have an adventure outside of the home. Yeah- can’t have nice girls going on awesome, dream-like adventures (drug-induced, perhaps? Come on-Snow??? Poppies??? Who could forget the 'crazy coincidence' of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon following the course of the movie? Hopefully, you figured this one out before you were intitiated into the world of parental bliss...). Oh nooo, can’t have that: Be a good girl and stay home, after all, there’s no place like it.


Despite all of this, I find it hard to dislike either movie. These are things I have noticed since becoming a mother. It won’t make me stop watching. Besides, what child doesn’t like Mary Poppins or The Wizard of Oz? I’d be hard pressed to find one such child.

Check out the original Movie Script

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Future Puzzle

I think it started with the (stuffed animal) dog hanging from a single wire. No, it was before that when my endurance and sanity were sapped by my period, nine days of torrential floodng culminating in utter parchedness and a feelingof complete imbalance. Follow with atimely chaser of stomach flu and theeeeeeeennn- action! The single wire!

Suspended from the Japanese maple in the front yard, on a length of rough twine, Sophia's dear companion (stuffed!) puppy Myrtle perfoms feats of grace and daring on a single wire. A la Circus Smirkus she dangles at just the right height for Sophia to grab her and swing her round and round the yard like a tetherball. As with everything this must be executed in a very particular fashion. Stand in front of the lilacs and send Myrtle sweeping at top speed toward the porch. And for awhile this continued happily until the afternoon I came back from work to find Sophia had sustained injury from the heavy porcelian teapot she had apparently fit as a helmet to Myrtle's head. As Myrtle has returned to the stage from the audience after a celestial spiral of wonder, Sophia got cracked full on in the face with the teapot.

That was the day of three different head injuries. That was the very day that she began to respond to accidents by insisting they did not happen. If she takes a spill and I ask how she is she refuses to admit to the fall saying she is unhurt and nothing happened. About a month later this pattern is still going on. A witchy mama I have tried every approach to correcting this scary line of thinking and have had no success. Evidently, when my husband reponded to her teapot accident she must have heard anger in his voice (instead of the fear and concern) and said she was “Great” and she “did not get hit with a teapot.” Every mishap since (and there have been an unusually high number of them- refer to spider bite post) has been met with this same behavior. This scares the hell out of me. We are trying to reinforce that when she is hurt she must reach out and listen to her body's message. We have taken every damn line I can think of and no change. And so it am reminded of the intricasies of perception.

I received messages as a child that I was the go-to-girl. I had to hold everyone up with my preternaturraly high level of competence in the adult sphere. In the fifth grade I was pulled out of my classroom several times aweek to cover for the school secretary. Literally, I was removed from lessons to run the office in her absence. This meant dealing with phone calls, using the intercom to contact teachers and dismiss children when parents arrived. I had to do the bells for some lunches. I was eleven years old. This was the year that my teacher put me in charge of creating a dance curriculum to present to my classroom once a week for a month in lieu of gym class. I could go on...

Clearly I was socialized as the little mother and problem solver and everyone.s big sister. I am still trying to sort this out on a daily basis. It is one thing to reflect on your experince as a child and try to trace the roots of behaviors and beliefs. It is quite another to watch it LIVE if you will as THE mother.

In this case I see that an erroneous perception has caused Sophia to react in a not so good way when injured/sick. We are staying on top of it and trying to gently bring her around to admiting she did tumble or does need help. It is so unspeakably strange to be on this side of it all. To be on this fluid, tenuous, dynamic side of the creation of a self. To watch all of this. To be a part of a future puzzle.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Web of Mother and Daughter

Almost two weeks ago I saw a shaman for a healing session called a soul retrieval. This is not a past lives reading or a psychic forecast. It is much simpler and more practical, concrete. It is the calling home of the little pieces of YOU that slide away over the course of time for better or worse.

During my session as I lay back comfortably, eyes closed I felt a big, black spider crawl up my left leg. Although my concious mind assured me it was not a reality I swatted it away three times. Even as my hand stirred from the table and brushed against my skin I knew there was nothing literally there. But, it was unmistakable. Furry black body with wiry legs, ambling crookedly over my calf toward my knee.

A number other intense experiences occured during the session but as I walked home in the twilight after the meeting I recognized that spider asone from a reoccuring childhood nightmare. I dreamed that the spider was coming to take away my mother. I was seven or so and I saw him looming just behind hetr. I saw her bright orange sundress, Dr. Scholls sandals with the navy buckle, and paisley bandana. Don't take my mother away, I would whisper. It was what my husband calls a dread dream. A bottomless pit of shadow filling my belly. It came again and again until- gone. Like that.

I reflected upon that image as I walked to my daughter over twenty years later... Then Sophia got a spider bite.

She had an absolutely horrendous (delerium, grinding teeth, tortourous pain) reaction. Her little hand swelled into a red boxers mitt, skin taut and leathery. I spend a night staring at her waiting for a fever that thankfully never came and listened to the pouring rain. It took several days to subside and then the telltale fang marks. Two dots tightly spaced , in the center of the front of her right hand.

I told a friend about all of this and she said she had mother/spider dreams as a child too. She told me that in our dreams a spider is believed to represent the mother. What does all this mean for us? For the web bewteen mother and daughter, daughter and mother?

Maybe I need to make a shrine to Spider Woman/Grandmother Spider, pronto. Maybe we all do.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Poem: Tattoo You

Tattoo You

So proud-
Around you turned
And showed bare
One shoulder blade.

Tattoo you:
A sketch of vowels and consonants
In a script befitting
Your adoration for one little girl.

It seemed a little skewed
To my keen eye:
An ‘i’ for the second ‘a’…

Tattoo you:
So proud-
A name sketched on that blade
Unknown in so many ways…

Around you turned and
Showed bare
Your ignorance
For one little girl…

A Mommy with an Attitude: What the Hell is Caitlin Flanagan Talking About? The Good the Bad and the Baffling!

A Mommy with an Attitude: What the Hell is Caitlin Flanagan Talking About? The Good the Bad and the Baffling!


Hey-I found this while bloggin'

it's great!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Mama Needs More Vices

Brief conversation between myself and husband confirms my supicions. Mama needs more vices. No drinking, smoking, TV...No downtime involving unplugging my constant inner chatter. No pop culture escapism. Sometimes yoga just don't cut it.

My great passion- reading fiction - is also sometimes not quite the answer. Either my eyes are fuzzing out or my brain can't recognize those pesky letter vowel combos without lapsng into sleepyland. (after preschool age child falls asleep at her constant 10:00 bedtime)

Sometimes you just need to be at the middle school dance in the musty town hall , winning the dance contests and cramming someones mom's underbaked version of Duncan Hines brownies down with a swig of A and W. Christ were those days simple....

I think I will be my own personal Vice Squad . Instead of battling I will actively seek those BAAAAAD things I am not getting.

Mother Mary




I am not an overtly religious person. In fact, I don’t think I am very religious at all, and really never have been.


My daughter and I pass her nearly everyday on our regular walking route.
This Statue, this Mother, this Goddess.

I’ve lost track how many times we’ve gone past her, a quiet, solid presence, held in stone.

Every time, she holds my interest.
Every time, I cannot help but look upon her in acknowledgment, in respect.

Apparently, my daughter thinks so too. Apparently, she knows Mother Mary well-
On more than one occasion, while walking alongside me, she’ll veer into the alcove of Mary; bow down to sniff the flowers (‘fow-fow’s), her hand delicately cupping the petals. She then straightens, gazes shyly at Mother Mary, shifts a little so she is standing in front of her and begins a conversation with the Holy Mother in her current baby jabber.

When she is done, she comes over to me, takes my hand, and we continue our walk.

I always wonder what she’s saying to Mother Mary.

…And if anything is being said back to her…

Friday, June 23, 2006

Re-Introducing The Muppet Show!!

Re-Introducing…The Muppet Show!
(With Special Guest Star: Beginning to Feel A Wee Bit Old)


I picked up The Muppet Show-Season 1- the other day at the library. I was excited to finally see it on DVD. I watched it as a young kid. I thought maybe Cat would like it too. Worth a try, right?

Of course, she loves it, just as she obsessively loves Labyrinth. Our house seems to have been ‘Henson-ized”. By this I mean we have everything (almost) Henson related: Labyrinth, Sesame Street, The Muppet Show (obviously) and even (for Mom) The Dark Crystal. All I’d like to say is Jim Henson was a frickin’ genius. Obviously.

Season 1-This is way back- ’76, maybe. As we sat down and watched it- the familiar (to me) opening sing- and-dance number, the Muppets themselves, and finally the special guest star being dramatically announced-it struck me as we watched these episodes that they are old by now, (Don’t mean to make anyone else feel old, but if it makes you feel any better- I felt old after watching these) not to mention the guest stars, such as Ethel Merman, Valerie Harper, Joel Grey, Gene Kelly, George Burns and Jim Nabors, to name a few.

Who??

Most likely, a lot of kids growing up today probably don’t even know (or care) who Ethel Merman was, or Valerie Harper, or even Gene Kelly.
Even I had a hard time placing Valerie Harper: Wasn’t she the one on Rhoda, The Mary Tyler Moore Show? Was that it?

Another thing that occurred to me: most of the guests who appeared on The Muppet Show are dead by now.

-And Vincent Price….is he dead, or what?

People like Merman and Kelly seem like the ancient of the most ancient dinosaurs in comparison with today’s top movie stars, pop queens and (is it still angst-ridden?) ‘rock’, if it’s even called that anymore ( Do I sound old yet?) I don’t even know who’s on the charts these days, and quite frankly, don’t really care.

In spite of ‘feeling my age’, I am glad for the opportunity to re-introduce a show such as The Muppets to my daughter-something that is truly entertaining for children and adults alike- rather than having her be into something like Barney or those freakish Teletubbies.


A little extra: Check out the ‘Manamana’ sketch and 1-12 sketch on Google Video Of The Day (you'll have to scroll down a wee bit)
Also, according to Wikipedia, Vincent Price is dead.

Also on my blog.

Dancing Queen

After four years of living in the kid zone I am happy to say we have one single solitary musical toy in our repetoire. I mean musical monstrosity not instruments like fairy drum, castinets, bellydance zills, cardboard banjo etc... It was a dumpster find by my mother in law - a Sit and Spin that lights up and plays barely recognizable "favorites". At first Sophia hated it. What the hell with the flashing lights and dissonant racket? Sure enough she warmed up to it and is channelling lounge dancer Josephine Baker as she dances around it in only a tutu, all arms and legs, hair flying. It is the ideal aerobic workout -- just flinging yourself around to the dance remix of "She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain". I swear the "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star " has a disco whistle in it..As she speed arabesques through "Rockin Robin" she is sheer energy, raw muscle. It is a vision of loveliness. It is my temple. my shrine to the wildness just beneath the surface of us all.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Dog Scare

From Journal, May 21, 2006

Yesterday, Cat and I were out on our walk. She was walking alongside me as is the norm these days. We passed where Capitol Grounds used to be and this goddamned German-Shepherd began viciously barking from inside a car as well as frothing at the mouth, baring its teeth like fucking (excuse the language) Cujo.

It absolutely freaked Cat out-freaked me out too: I actually jumped. She totally froze and did the silent scream, mouth a huge square portal of fear.

No owner in sight, nothing but a rabid dog rocking the car. It took about 25 minutes to calm her down. Took me about half the day to come down from the rage that nearly overtook my entire being.

There was nothing I could do. Except to comfort my now hiccupping daughter lying on my shoulder, clinging for dear life.

I think the fact that there was nothing I could do partly fueled the rage I felt at this situation. Comforting my daughter was not enough: I wanted re-tal-i-a-tion. I wanted to rip whoever owned that dog into shreds. Shreds. For terrifying my daughter with that goddamned dog.

I thought briefly of leaving a note on the car saying Thanks so much! Your dog just traumatized my child.

I didn’t because 1. The dog was still rocking the car
2. My rage was blinding.

Just the day before, we encountered another dog and its owner in front of the Tattoo Shop. It was a pleasant experience! A yellow lab and a very nice lady as the owner. Cat actually petted the dog as it calmly stood by. So, at least she saw that dogs can be nice and friendly.

Also on my Blog with additional links.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Bird Song

"Birdie, birdie, ba, ba, ba,
ohhh, yeah, yeah
Ooooooooooooooo
Birdie, birdieee, ba, ba,
Yeah, yeah, yeah."

This is the sweet song that my girl has been singing lately, after literally finding her voice. I’ve been asking her to sing for quite some time now, and she’d sing out a few bars of an attempt at Baby Beluga (which is damn hard to say, thanks very much Raffi), but that was it. Just today she found her voice. Her sweet, true, loud, husky, hilarious voice. I ask her to sing and she goes off into the most random string of words she knows now. I find myself in awe of the bold move to just sing whatever is in her head, however she wants. I think how stifled we all are, walking around this world, holding in our random soundtracks, and how life has a way of limiting our voices. I hope her voice will stay strong and true, and hearing hers, I’m wondering where my own wandering tune went.

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Space Invaders

(June 16, 2006)

Okay. At Rite Aid this morning buying a sippy cup.They must have had a delivery: there were boxes everywhere throughout the store.

This woman-mid 30's, I would guess- comes down the aisle I am in. I notice her at the last minute as she begins saying 'Could I please get by' while actually grabbing hold of the stroller handle and begins pushing it out of her way, tentatively, as though it were a box of merchandise.

I totally whipped around in amazed disbelief: 'I will move the stroller with my baby out of your way', meanwhile giving her the death-glare of Don't you dare touch my baby. I will rip your head off.

Why is it that everyone seems to think babies are like common, or community, property, almost?

Besides all of this, there was the very basic issue of space invasion, and I am not talking about outer space. I am talking about personal space-this is your space, this is mine: do not invade.
I've always been a huge fan of personal space, I mean huge. Now that I have a child, my interest (what a mild word) in it has grown infinitely.

I always try to be aware of other people's space. I don't hover near people in line at the bakery
( a major annoyance). I try to be respectful of other people's space. I tell my child to back up a bit from the other kids, and adults, if she begins to get too close for comfort.

Some people just are not aware of space, apparently, particularly other people's. But maybe they should be.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

What Matters

In the midst of completing report cards, and dealing with some tricky parent situations, and the chaos that was my classroom after having a substitute teacher for a day, I was reminded about what is really important in this world.

See, I’m a teacher, and in the last few weeks of school, a teacher is juggling way too many balls in the air. It’s easy to be mired in assessments, staff changes, parent issues, student behaviors, and end of the year expectations. But when you lose what matters most, everything changes.

When I found out about a former student’s death I was just coming out of a long meeting, and heading to class. When my colleague told me that one of my former students had died at the age of 14, I burst into tears. It was her face, youthful and beautiful, that came rushing in to my mind. Immediately it was a few years ago, and she ran beside me as part of my after school running club, excitedly laughing, telling stories, and being goofy.

Later that day a student asked to have lunch with me. I had parent calls to return; meetings to set up, papers to grade and report cards to write, but that didn’t matter. I thought of that former student, and said yes. You see, what slammed into my mind with the senseless death of a young woman was that yes, students need to learn how to read, do math, write and other content areas. But what really matters in the lives of young people, all people, is relationships. Feeling valued, listened to, important. They say that adolescents need just one adult, one adult that they can turn to, that they can trust. I know many people were working hard to connect with my former student. For me, her death made me pull out of my thick educational ostrich hole and actually talk more with students. It made me walk away from the work that was piling up on my desk and really listen to what they have to say.

Later that night I held my own daughter in my arms. I wept as I told her no matter what; I’d love her until the day I died. And if for some reason she couldn’t come to me, I prayed she’d find another adult who would listen to her, love her and help her get what she needs. To me, that means everything.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Two Weeks, Non-Renewable

I cannot check out two week, non-renewable books from the library. I just can't. I never have enough time to finish them. Or, I haven't even started them and they just end up sitting on my desk, collecting dust and other papers till it's time to take them back, unread.
It bothers me.

Also, another thought in the library vein: I thought it interesting that the Kellogg-Hubbard Library has had to put up a sign on the bathroom door in the children's section saying this:
BATHROOMS FOR CHILDREN AND PARENTS ONLY.

Storytime at the Library
I wrote this on my blog a few weeks before the sign went up.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Four

I have a daughter who is four years old.
My daughter is four years old.
My four year old daughter...

Repetition does not make it seem any more real. Last week my daughter turned four years old. FOUR.YEARS.OLD.How can this possibly be true? Surreal moment of blowing out the candles. Four years later, me with no abdominal tone, permanant stretch marks wondering how in the world I got this far... Lately we have hit a regressive patch. Bedtime, mealtimes are a bitch. She has lost her knack for entertaining herself and lurks around looking for trouble. Most of which involves the cat.

A few weeks ago she sat in her underwear scarfing a bowl of blackberry rhubarb crisp. I was trying to talk with my husband about food and she interrupts.

"I dont want do this God Damned thing."

Silence on our part. Do not scold for foul langauge.Try and move past it. "What thing, pal?"

"Talk about buckwheat noodles."

Well, I can't argue. I didnt want to talk about GD buckwheat noodles anymore either.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Searching For Mama

The Mama Says Blog-well, we've been getting a good amount of traffic these days. As of today, there have been 107 visitors since the Site Meter has been added (in May)! (Click on the Site Meter at the bottom of the page to see the numbers)
It's interesting to see what people are searching for on your site.
I would just like to share a few:

"how many poopy diapers should a three month old have a day"
-this is a favorite

"5 months poem"

"when a two year old babbles continuously for some minutes"
- this is great!

"mama poems"

"Living with extended family"

"poem about summer"

Also- there are searches that include various members of this blog.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Links Page

Questions to ask your health care provider, hospital, midwife

What to ask your careprovider
What to ask your Hospital, Doctor, Midwife or Birth Center
What to ask your Pediatrician, Doula and more
All about the Midwife


Health Care Info.

ALACE: Association of Labor Assistants & Childbirth
Educators. List of home birth midwives and doulas in
Vermont.
Vermont Nurse Midwives: List of Midwives in Vermont.

Le Leche League of Vermont
Le Leche League International
Le Leche League of Central Vermont

Recall's.gov:Find out if any toy, carseat, etc., has been recalled by the government here.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Article on European Union encouraging couples to have more children

Here is an interesting article I found on BBC News online. Interesting facts and stuff.
It has relevance to several posts here on Mama Says: Thoughts on a Second Child, and others. I'm sure, too, that this subject has been on alot of people's minds.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

On the ordinary magic of mothering/writing

I wrote the following poem years ago when, as a single mom, I struggled with the same questions and feelings that Sam and Kris wrote about in their previous posts.

My children are grown now and so, in its way, is my poetry. And even though I have no little children tugging at my mind and body, no next poopy diaper to change, I still choose to work the magic of the mundane, the ordinary. Why? Because it is the only work.

The word "ordinary" comes from the latin: to order; and the root word of "mundane" is world. To tend carefully to the ordinary, the mundane, is to serve no less than the work of the Anima Munde Herself. To work an ordinary magic is to be a priestess of the Orderer of the World.

And so I dedicate this to you, Sam and Kris, and to every mom who struggles with the sacred burden of working her own small ordinary magics within what seems to be her own unimportant little corner of the everyday world.

Though the powers-that-be are invested in seducing you to believe otherwise, know that you are the mother/priestesses who, every single day, order the creative inner worlds from which your children will grow their realities. You are the singers of what the world longs to become long after you are gone.

Magic, indeed.


Work

Some things never go away
Never leave me alone
Stretch marks
Dirty dishes
Overdue bills
And the pen in my hand
Rendering its constant stream
Of words
Hauled up
Out of the well
Dripping and sparkling
To hang in the air
And wait their turn
To be arranged just so
And dry in the sun