A mother’s son

I keep thinking about his mother.

How she must be beating herself up. Wondering where she went wrong. Perhaps even resenting her son for ending his life after she worked so hard to give it to him.

I keep thinking about a city I love and the University that is beloved by practically everyone in it. A University I’ve come to respect and appreciate.

I keep thinking about how I’d been planning to go to that library with my 1-year-old son to get a book these past few weeks. How I might have gone this week if I hadn’t been out of town visiting my own mother.

I keep thinking about the rage I would feel if anyone ever tried to take my son from me. The rage I would feel if he ever endangered or took someone else’s precious life.

And this is probably a weird point to dwell on, but the fact that it all ended in a library – Libraries have always been sanctuaries for me. Books were a safe world for me to escape to. School was safe. It still should be.

I’m angry at him and I feel sorry for him. And I am just so, so grateful no one else was hurt.

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I love Garbage

I’m talking about the band. Do y’all remember them? Man, they were awesome. They’re the only band I ever liked where I also liked all their albums.

There’s just something sexy and dangerous about their music, so I don’t listen to it around Max. When I run errands by myself, though, I totally rock out. I don’t care if people see me singing in the car or dancing. I’m a good car-dancer.

They’re one of those bands that take me back the minute I hear certain songs. I hear “Stupid Girl” and I remember the family vacation at Gulf Shores the summer between junior and senior year of high school. (I think that was the last of our family beach vacations.) MTV was banned in my hometown, despite the fact that VH-1 was available and showing the same videos that had gotten MTV banned in the first place. So, the first thing my brother, sister, and I did upon arrival at the beach was flip on the TV and find MTV. The ocean could wait.

I hear “Push It” and it takes me back to sophomore year at A&M. That song was such a great stress-reliever. I would leave class and drive in the car listening to it, yelling and pounding the steering wheel.

Their third album didn’t really have a standout song for me. I just liked the whole thing.

Their fourth album came out the year I moved to Austin. I found out the band had broken up and got back together to finish that album. And it was amazing. I can’t listen to it without remembering that first year in Austin, finally out of school, finally living in a real city, finally breaking free of the person I had tried to be because I was afraid of the real world.

Feeding kids is good

I almost bought one of the new “Formula Powered” onesies at Old Navy today. I am that disgusted by the uproar and the threats to boycott Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic, and Piperlime over it. Can you say “overreaction”?

I decided not to buy one because Max is no longer on formula and because, while I think there is nothing wrong with feeding your child formula, I guess I don’t want to shout it from the rooftops. I’m not exactly pro-formula. I guess I am pro-breastfeeding, but really I am just pro-FEEDING kids. Which is all that matters.

I am a little ashamed to admit that a desire to avoid possible confrontations with overzealous pro-breastfeeders was another reason I put the onesie back on the rack. I didn’t think I would be brave enough to actually dress Max in it. I am actually afraid that someone will take me to task in public over it. And I don’t want to deal with that, especially in front of my kid. (Not to mention that it cost 10 dollars instead of the 5 quoted online. A little much for something I don’t like that he probably won’t wear.)

The breastfeeding extremists are actually hurting their cause. Extremism always does. What are mothers supposed to do who can’t breastfeed? What about single fathers? Not everyone has access to a milk bank or to a kind, healthy, nursing mother willing to share her milk. I do actually think that breast milk is healthier. But I don’t think formula is bad. Are we supposed to go back to the pre-formula days where babies without access to breast milk just died??

I nursed my son for seven months. I am glad I did. But it was really hard at first. I used to gaze at formula with a mixture of revulsion and longing. I had been so brainwashed to think that formula was evil, that I was a bad mother if I let him have formula for even one feeding when I was capable of nursing.

My son was “formula powered” from 7 months until about a week ago when he started taking just whole milk. Does that make me a bad mother? Hell, no. And the next time I have a child, I will nurse and I will probably pump. However, I will also let my husband give him or her formula occasionally, so that I can get more than three hours of sleep at a time. And I will refuse to feel bad about it.

Breastfeeding is amazing. I was sorry to quit. I still remember the tenderness of the last time when Max fell asleep in my arms while nursing. It breaks my heart that I will never experience that with him again. Mothers should be encouraged to at least think about it, to try it. Mothers should be able to nurse in public without fear of being consigned to a public bathroom (Do YOU want to eat in there? I’m talking to you, IKEA.) or cover up. (It is sweltering and uncomfortable for both mother and baby underneath those covers. Especially in summer.) Americans really need to get over their discomfort. If you want the future of America raised on breast milk, you need to get comfortable with seeing it real quick.

It makes absolutely no sense to say these onesies are “a cruel slap in the face” to nursing moms. How??? Many babies eat formula, for one reason or another. Since when do nursing moms get a voice and formula-feeding moms do not? Censorship and oppression are not going to help the image of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding should not be hidden as if it’s dirty. Neither should formula-feeding. Feeding babies is never dirty. Just feed your kids and let everybody else feed theirs.

Crankiness loves company

Oh, today. Crabby, rainy, impatient-with-my-child today. Max was a handful today. I’m not sure if he was cranky because I was cranky or I was cranky because he was cranky. Or both. Either way, he was climbing on, grabbing at, and occasionally biting both me and the cats.

I was pretty impatient with him a few times. I’m human and it’s frustrating when I’m trying to cut his nails so he won’t hurt himself and he cries and writhes like I’m trying to cut his fingers OFF. Even “The Biscuit Brothers” didn’t completely distract him. I guess I shouldn’t have been trying to cut his nails right before his nap, but there never seems to be a good time to do these chores. He’s always about to take a nap or eat or we have to get out the door.

Speaking of food – this has not been a easy week. The vomit I have cleaned up. Max threw up three meals in a row on Monday and Tuesday, so I felt I had to take him to the doctor even though he didn’t seem sick. He’s not. We just had to go back to feeding him one, smaller bite at a time. Just when I had gotten to where I could put a small amount of food on his tray and let him go to it and not have to feed him every. single. bite. Sigh.

Max the genius

I asked Max at naptime what book he wanted to read for “night-night”. He not only handed me a book, it was his Sesame Street “Nighty-Night” book! He’s only thirteen months old! He’s a genius.

Let’s talk about sex … or not

I turned on a rerun of “Friends” earlier today. I don’t watch that show much anymore, since I have seen most of the episodes a million times and I have all of the seasons on DVD. However, I thought it might be a harmless way to decompress for a few minutes between finishing Max’s bottle and starting his dinner.

There were three sex jokes in the first few minutes we watched. Max probably doesn’t understand what he’s hearing and, even if he does, he doesn’t know what it means yet. But it made me really uncomfortable. Uncomfortable enough to turn it off.

What’s the problem? I asked myself. You watched “Golden Girls” with your mom and grandparents every weekend when you were little. You watched “Roseanne” every single week. It all went over my head. I was shocked at the content when I starting watching the reruns in college. They’re not that racy by today’s standards certainly, but they are family shows and were on during the family hour. I don’t think it was wrong for my mom to let me watch them, so I wonder why I felt so uncomfortable with Max. (Of course, I was school-age, not a toddler.) Especially since I watch “The Golden Girls” around him with no problem. “Roseanne”, too. (Although I have gotten a bit fidgety during that one.) Does the sitcom format make it seem less serious? It’s a joke, so that makes it seem more appropriate. They’re not actually SHOWING sex, so that’s ok. Is it? (Just a note that I am talking about whether it’s ok for my son’s viewing. As far as I’m concerned the shows can do what they want. I don’t have to watch.)

I don’t think sex or talk about it is embarrassing and I don’t want to convey that impression to my son. He is only 13 months old, though. He’s too young for it. But he doesn’t notice the racy talk yet. And he probably won’t for a long time. And if he does, he’ll probably ask questions, which means he’s ready for some sort of honest answer. (Of course, there are degrees. A three-year-old doesn’t need as much detail as a six-year-old or a nine-year-old, etc.) Is it ok if they’re just talking about sex or joking about it? Is it ok if he doesn’t seem to notice it?

And while we’re on the subject, what is UP with the racy and/or violent commercials on family channels during family shows?? Yeah, I’m talking to you ABC Family.

Leaping

I only blow-dry my hair once a week. (If that.)

I refuse to wash my hair more often than every other day. (Actually, I started that before I became a mom.)

I read a lot of blogs, particularly mommy blogs.

The TV is actually off during the day quite frequently.

I’ve started wearing something besides jeans every single day. I’m wearing shorts for the first time in years! (Can’t haul around a 24 pound kid and a diaper bag in 100+ degree heat wearing jeans. Uh-uh.)

I go to bed earlier.

I cook.

I use coupons.

I make a total fool out of myself in order to make my son laugh.

I love and accept myself more than I ever have. I know myself better than I ever have.

I’ve been reading a lot of mysteries, which I always longed to do, but never did.

I’ve started doing things instead of longing to do them. The big leap in to motherhood made all of the smaller leaps easier. And more important.

My little vampire

I don’t like being bitten. Shocking, I know. And I have a child who, for lack of a better word, is a biter. But not an aggressive, angry one. He seems to bite out of love. And therein lies the complication.

Let me back up a bit. Our son has a previous history of biting, but nothing that serious. We went through a phase where he started biting me while nursing. Not only did that hurt, but it totally stressed me out. It just sucked. I had to willingly offer one of the most sensitive parts of my body everyday to someone who was almost certain to bite it. And then grin at me like it was funny. He even started looking up at me right before he did it, almost as if he was seeing if he could get away with it. It was like offering my nipple to a piranha three or more times a day.

He did grow out of that, but nursing ended not too long after anyway. He would occasionally bite our fingers when we brushed his teeth or our hands, but it was never a big problem and it was limited to my husband and me.

Until the day my child decided to go all Twilight in playgroup. We went on a playdate with some friends from his music class. It was at the playscape at the mall and everything was going perfectly at first. However, we were already not having a good morning. We had to get up early and rush, which I, and I suspect Max, do not like to do. Furthermore, I had lost my patience with his squirming on the changing table and broken a sweat putting him in his carseat at 10 in the morning.

We get to the playscape and it is absolutely full of kids, older kids, despite the fact that the sign very clearly says it is only for children under 1. Plus, all of the parents are wearing shoes and it says no shoes! Grr. Anyway, Max apparently became excited and overwhelmed and started biting everyone. EVERYONE. First, his little friends, then their caregivers, then kids we didn’t know. He even tried to bite adults we didn’t know, but I managed to stop him. I was so blindsided and embarrassed. Thank goodness, his friends’ nanny and mom had seen him behave perfectly in music class for the previous seven weeks.

I cried buckets after we got home, from stress and worry and goodness only knows what else. He has continued to bite too much since then, although not with the frequency of that day. He is getting better, but I feel guilty, because I flinch too often when I see his mouth headed towards any part of my body. Or even just his head. I try so hard to wait and let him make contact and only pull away if he actually bites, but I just can’t sometimes. It’s an involuntary reaction and very hard to control. It’s natural to flinch away if you think someone is going to bite you, right?? But I think it is his way of kissing and showing affection and I am terribly afraid he feels rejected when I flinch away or nudge him away. I have gotten better and, ironically, he bit me kind of hard on the jawline when I was putting him to bed tonight (I was overwhelmed with love and hugged and kissed him tightly and he responded in his own unique way.) and that made me less afraid of the biting. Still, I wonder if damage has been done. We show him so much love and affection and he does not act like he feels rejected, but I worry about what goes on in that little head of his.

Does it make you a bad mom to not want to be bitten? Surely not. Heck, it’s gotten to where sometimes I’m excited when I see his teeth headed towards my skin, so I can give him a chance to show affection without biting. I want to not worry about biting. Just let whatever happens happen and handle the problem when and if it happens. I want to do that with pretty much everything else, too.

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