Sunday, July 13, 2008

I could go on...

There is a gift that Charlotte gave me, and it's passion. Passion about so many things. I don't know whether I appear to be openly passionate, to my friends, or even my family, but I do feel so incredibly passionate and decided about so many things, and I attribute it to her. Why? Charlotte made me realize that anything could happen. I could absolutely, definitely die tomorrow, and I truly could have cancer growing in my belly, and it's possible that someone will break into my house tonight and murder me. I could go on, with the extensive list of things that you think will never happen to you, but on that list used to be: Your baby will die; but then that happened, and suddenly the whole list entered into my realm of possibility.
The long and the short of it is, knowing all of this doesn't scare me: this reminds me of the GITW question about my relationship to fear. It humbles me, to be suddenly vulnerable, surrounded by people who still live in the bubble, but it somehow lessens my fear, because I know I have no control. When you are contemplating such scenarios and they do seem impossible, the instinct is to tighten up-- to wonder to onesself, how do I stop it from happening? What would I do if it did? But when you realize they could happen, you think, I couldn't stop it in the first place, and if it did happen, I would muddle my way through it the best I could and it wouldn't do me a damn lick of good to have thought about it in advance. So-- in a sense-- I am liberated from this fear: I choose not to address it, even knowing anything could happen, and instead I focus on now, I focus on here, and I try to just love it.
I do. Of course you know that. Half of the time that's all I talk about, how besotted I am with my children, how fortunate I am to have such wonderful friends, a completely amazing husband, and a rock-solid family of origin. Before I lost Charlotte, I used to really think about this often: I had everything I wanted, and it seemed like I always got what I wanted. Well, that didn't really last... but I digress.
So here I sit, intentionally surrounding myself with things that I love. People, plants (oh, my gardens... I am picking up my digital camera tomorrow and prepare to behold the next sunny day) I love my house by the river, it calls to me, I love the things that I do. I actually smile to myself at the little saying on the back of Liam's Life is Good shirt: love what you do, and do what you love... because this is what I try to do.
Now I also recognize that I am in such a place of privilege to love what I do all the time... I don't have to grow my own food, so I can just love what I do all the time, and for this I am so very grateful.
In this, I am also finding that I feel more convicted about things, and more likely to take a stance. Which means, I have opinions, and they are definite for me. I don't share them very often, because in my belief that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I really don't feel like they need me breathing down their backs. But hey! Here I am, on my blog, writing, for all intents and purposes, TO MYSELF. So hey! What do I feel passionate about? What, if I were a more obnoxious, out-there person, would I be saying? What, if I wasn't so busy loving my tiny, insular life in the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts, would I be out there saying, or thinking, or doing?
1. I love hanging my laundry outside! You should all try this. Despite my big yard, I didn't have a good place for a clothesline, so I hedged on this... and finally just bought two big drying racks that I put out (so smart) on the hot black driveway. They dry nice and crispy and the first month I did it after the winter my electric bill was $24 less, and I swear that's why.
2. Cloth diapers.. I know I have already gotten on my soapbox about this, but really, they are just so cool. I would bet that each one of my diapers has probably been worn and washed over a thousand times. That's without even doing any real math, it might be more. Think about the pile of throw aways that would become. Wow. So very, very cool. And really, not a lot of work, really close to none, and cheap, too. Really, you should do it. You won't look back.
3. Vegetable based stuff! Here's what's on the back of my 7th generation laundry detergent (and I believe it, because I am being brainwashed as we speak) "If every household in the US replaced one 50 oz. bottle of petroleum based liquid laundry detergent with one bottle of our vegetable based product, we could save 233,000 barrels of oil a year, enough to heat and cool 13,400 U.S. homes for a year. HI! Go out and replace your tide with something else. That's not hard, is it?
4. Circumcision! (I know, I am starting to sound like mothering magazine. Bear with me, knowing that I secretly do like eating Cheetos sometimes when we stop for gas on a road trip, and also knowing that I bribe my children semi-regularly with M & Ms) Okay, so here's what I would say, if somebody asked me and my filter fell off: If you are religious about this issue, it's a question of faith, and you don't have to have a reason for faith, that's just the whole point of faith. But if not? Let's look at it this way. What if I said to the doc in the newborn nursery, Could you just do a little tuck on those ears? They kind of stick out. Could you just kind of do a little plastic surgery to tuck them in, so they'll look better?
Yeah, so that's pretty much it, in my opinion, and I know this will definitely make some of my readers mad, and I'm sorry for this, but I really do think that cutting off a bunch of skin from a boy's penis for no proven medical reason is no different from any cosmetic surgery. So in case you were wondering about that, now you know. I think it's ridiculous.
5. Reading. I love, love, love to read, and I read exactly what I want. I never make myself read certain books because I feel like I should. I think it's really good to read. It takes me to new places, and even fiction I feel helps me learn about what it's like to be someone else somewhere else. So I think everyone should read more.
6. Television. I think it rots people's brains, but it's still fun sometimes. In our house, we have a TV but no channels except for 2. We get PBS and one other main one (CBS? NBC?) which flickers intermittantly making it not so desirable to watch. Our TV routine is that about once a month we watch NOVA (such dorks) and about once a winter we borrow and get sickly addicted to one season of a show-- usually 24, although we have also seen 2 seasons of Lost. We watch like complete zombies until the series is over and then swear off of ever borrowing TV from the library again, until the sun starts to set at 4:40 pm again and then it seems like a great idea. As for the kids, the TV doesn't really register for them, as they don't use it, and every now and again, on the fourth rainy day in a row, or when someone's sick, they get to watch a little video, and they think they are the coolest kids ever. I like TV for that.
7. Pacifiers. So what, for a baby? If it makes your kid happy, yay. But every minute of every day? Maybe not. And when the kid is 4? Maybe not anymore. Those of you who know me are laughing because you know the source of this feeling of mine. I have this child who I love (not my child, a friend's child) whose teeth are right now, this minute as we speak, being destroyed by her beloved binky. I want to burn it.
8. Breasts. Whip 'em out. Feed that baby. I love nursing, and I think everyone should do it for as long as they can stand it. When it drives you crazy, then you should stop. Because it's supposed to be fun and cuddly. But do suck it up for as long as you can stand it, your baby deserves it. Also on the subject of breasts, mine are basically gone at this point, and I'm trying to tell myself that it's really okay, because I have a pretty small frame anyway, so wouldn't it make sense that I would be small breasted? Maybe just fit right in, make me look even slimmer? Yeah, I'm trying to tell myself this.
9. Please don't feed your kids junk food. I mean all the time. Of course sometimes isn't going to kill anyone. But it makes me sad to see kids drinking soda. Or chowing on really nasty stuff, and you can tell it's not for a treat. Why would you intentionally make that the start to life? (my kids do eat a lot of ice cream cones in the summer, just so you know).
10. Sleep. Oh man, I am tired. I need a lot of it. I could really go on. I don't know why I even started this. I could talk about toys, about imaginative play, about running, and eating meat or not, I could talk about going away for the weekend without the kids or not, I could talk about using paper cups at a party, or buying a SUV, or having indoor or outdoor cats. Of course I have lots of opinions about lots of things, but right now I'm tired.
So tell me, what gets you going?
I know that my readers really tend not to comment too much. But can you all pretend that I just wrote something like the Baby Borrowers, and tell me this? If there's one area you wish you could be honest about, or you have really strong feelings, what is it? And what's your opinion? TELL US!!!


mm said...

That the cesarean rate was below 15%... which is recommended by WHO.
Instead, here in Canada we are a hairs breath away from 30% and the US is over 30%.
Scary stuff.

Oh and yes, I would like to get my daughter to stop sucking her thumb dear well meaning friends and neighbours....
Some constructive advice would be helpful. Not wrenching it out of her mouth every time you see her. She just sucks twice as hard when you terrorize her like that.
her teeth are moving, already! And I'm getting desperate myself thank you very much.
She'll stop, as the advice of the 'let it be' people... isn't going to cut it. Her speech is going to be affected if we can't stop her soon... argh!!!!

ahem.... sorry, did you invite comments on our own issues... or was that a rhetorical question?

Anonymous said...

Maybe I *want* to have 5 kids in a row, maybe I don't like it when people continue to tell me to "take a breath and enjoy what I have" JUST because I had two babies that are 15 months apart. so what, you should see the looks on their loving little faces when one or the other enters a room.

I don't care what care provider you choose for birth, but I can't stand to hear people blindly *BLINDLY* trust their doctor and end up with a procedure that probably, most likely didn't have to be done just because they weren't educated and didn't make the decision for themself. "my vagina just WOULDN'T stretch, you should have seen it, he told me I *had* to have an episiotomy" then come to find out, 90% of his patients get one.

Jen said...

Carol, I love it when you post your opinions- keep it up!

Let's see, what do I feel strongly about... okay, I wish that people wouldn't assume that because I had a c-section that I was blind and meek and just allowed unnecessary things to happen to me. I wish people would ask for the whole, complicated, messy story, and I wish that they would listen fully.

I feel strongly that our overall culture is pretty insane and needs to be challenged on a daily basis.

I feel strongly that I want to hear the voices and stories of amazing people like you because it makes me feel more connected to humanity.

I want people's real, profound needs to be recognized and honored: needs for joy and grieving, needs to express love or rage or confusion or any emotion; needs for companionship and solitude; all of it!

In parenting matters: yes to whipping out the boobs! no to binkies! no to junk food and TV! yes to lots of snuggling and kisses! and of course yes to individual variances and needs, and no to absolute decrees of appropriate parenting behavior.

Responding to the first part of your post: I am realizing another trait I seem to share with the babylost, despite not being babylost myself: a profound awareness of the fragility of life, knowing too well that worst fears can actually happen. Lately I just feel socked in the gut by this on a daily basis. How do I learn to temper this with joy? You seem to do that so well.

You are a treasure, Carol.

Shannon said...

I have a lot of crazy opinions, so glad you asked! For MM, I sucked my thumb until I was 9. I only did it past a certain age when I was home or going to sleep, not out in public. But it really did mess up my teeth and I was fortunate to get braces when I was 12-13 to correct it. For constructive advice I’ll tell you what finally got me to stop. I found that it wasn’t the thumb sucking I enjoyed. I had a t-shirt or other piece of clothing that always smelled of fresh laundry (but then took on smells of its own) that I would wrap over my index finger so when I sucked my thumb I could smell the cloth. I just continued to smell the t-shirt without sucking my thumb and before I knew it I wasn’t sucking my thumb anymore. I continued to have my make shift security blanket for several more years. I have my favorite one in a trunk in my room, all ratty and torn. Now I have other things that smell good that I keep around. My husband is one :) and my cats. They don’t go outside so they smell nice from snuggling on couches and bed comforters, but my husband thinks I’m weird. Others probably will too.

I have a lot to say about the list that Carol has in her post, but it was way too long to post here, so I put it as a post on my blog. Check it out if you want.

Awake said...

what Jen wrote..."of course yes to individual variances and needs, and no to absolute decrees of appropriate parenting behavior"

...rings true to me too. I feel very strongly about seeing your child as an individual and respecting that indiviudality.

Oh, and spending time, real time, with your kids - that's a biggie with me. I know so many people who just don't get that and few their children as nuisances to be avoided.

Rebecca said...

I find that I have to unzip my mouth carefully. I try *so* hard not to enforce my views on others and, in doing so, just march to my own drum. However, as the great Judith Viorst mused, if I were in charge of the world (or at least, the U.S.).....1- no one would eat meat. That said, my dh is a carnivore and I'm perfectly okay offering it to my son. 2- Like most civilized countries, the U.S. would abolish the death penalty. 3- Paid maternity/paternity leave for at least six months. Period. 4- On-site child care. 5- Breastfeeding would be promoted as heavily as formula and the world would not be shocked by moms like me who are still nursing toddlers.
That's what I would do to "fix" the country (oh yeah, and mandatory health insurance or state provided coverage or something to take the profit out of health care and put the care back into it). Personally? 6- Please don't shove your religion on me or assume that, because I do not share it, that I am not a moral person. 6a - (because I think many of the major religions need some help with this one) Women are sacred. What women do is sacred. Realize it and structure society accordingly. 7- Please be nice to your children. Treat them with kindness and respect, no matter how small, particularly in public. I might be tempted to open my mouth if you don't. (See? There I go butting into other people's lives and trying to enforce my views). 8- Travel. Open your eyes, see the world, go places you have never been and experience the planet. 9- Realize that life is a gift. Cherish it, even the crap. 10- My recycle bins may not always be full but I am programmed to cut up the little plastic holders that come with six-packs of soda cans or juice bottles. Years ago, I read a story about birdies getting caught in them and I reflexively chop those plastic holders into tiny bits now. Yogurt cartons too, because skunks' and raccoons' noses can get caught in them. Not that there's a raccoon within about 500 miles of southern Nevada, but it's a habit! Is cutting up plastic right on par with abolishing the death penalty? No. But when I stopped to think about things that I say/do/believe with absolute conviction, it came to mind. Whew!

Charlotte's Mama said...

Oh my! That was such, such fun reading comments... I loved it! Thank you, thank you!!