10 October 2016

Building a Culture of Consent, One Karate Class at a Time

I was at my son's karate class this week in my usual spot with other parents and siblings, holding my daughter as she tapped away at my phone taking pictures and exploring the shiny bubbly apps on the screen. 

She is two. 

A very outgoing and sweet boy came up to us and first hovered, then kind of squeezed his body up against ours to take a better look at the little screen. 

He looked about four years old. 

My daughter quickly looked up at my face, a look I see often when she is apprehensive about what is currently going on and looking to me and my reaction to either affirm her fears or sooth them with a look that says "It's okay, this is fine." 

My face was a question back to her...and then words: "Do you not want him to see the phone so close? Would you like to give it to me and I can put it away?" 
This was like asking to take away an ice cream cone. 
"No" she shook her head. 
"Well, he's interested in it and it may be good to either ask him not to give you space, or come up on my lap and I'll hold you, you can tell him 'No' if you want, or you can share and show him what you are doing" 
She opted for a very quiet "No" and then crawled onto my lap with the phone tucked up under her chin and tightly against her chest. 

At this point the little boy kind of caught the drift and moved away to go investigate another child's activities down the row. About two minutes later he came back and this time I could see his body was slightly rigid with anger and emotion and desire and ready to confront us. 

He walked up to inches of our faces and practically yelled, "Sharing is caring! Sharing is caring! If you don't share, it's not fair!" 

My heart dropped, and my own emotion and reaction was immediate, but I am thirty seven and have more control than a small child. What I wanted to do was pick my daughter up and run and yell over my shoulder..."She doesn't have to share if she doesn't want to, and you better start learning this now, kid!" 

Instead, I looked down at my daughter who was clutching the phone against her chest again and fiercely scowling at him with a very furrowed brow and a worried frown. She looked to me again. 

Mom-teaching moment... I turned to the boy "You know, if you have something that is yours and don't want to share it, that is really okay. You are right that sharing is caring, but we don't have to share if we don't want to, and it looks like right now she doesn't want to share the phone with you." He walked away with a strong pout. 

Okay, so here's what I know. I know that he was absolutely in the right to voice his emotions and desires. I know he was completely in the right to want what he wanted and to ask for it and even demand it. But what angered me is that somewhere along the way, this boy was fed those lines "Caring is Sharing and if you don't share, it's not Fair!" I get it, I was raised in the era of parenting where we took turns when demanded to, not when we were done with the toy or swing or game. I was told basically the same mantra many times, that we share, no matter what, sharing is the decent thing to do and if you don't you are a snob or a bully or a little shit of some kind. And I absolutely still encourage and foster the idea of sharing between my children and their friends, but that's the key: encourage, not require. 

I think our children can start learning a huge lesson in consent at the age of, yes, two...by reinforcing the very very critical point that if you don't want to share, that is also your right and absolutely okay. Every scenario my daughter and this sweet little boy (for he absolutely is a sweet child) would independently face in life came flooding at me and I realized the magnitude of such a seemingly small lesson I could teach both my son to be a man and my daughter to be a woman. When asked to give, to take part in, yes to share, the choice has to be of ones own and not due to pressure of moral stature or what's "fair" because life ain't fair and we will all be told "No" in so many small and big ways and we are better prepared if we know how to accept that response and also dish it out and be confident in doing so. And while my knee-jerk reaction was to go all momma-bulldog on this boy, I actually had great compassion for him and the disservice he is being taught at this age, that life is fair and he is entitled to what he craves and wants in any given moment. 

I know there is a shift already in many parenting and teaching circles to "fix" this idea of timed turns and forced sharing, and I am grateful for that and grateful that my son was in such an environment at preschool. But there are many who are not there yet, we could all be teaching our children some important lessons that will serve them well as adults, and particularly as young adults wrought with emotions and hormones. Something as simple as saying "No is okay, it sucks to hear, but it's their choice" could allow our children to adapt and grow simply knowing this as truth. 

It's the subtle suggestion that instils my daughter with the idea that "Oh, if I say no, this disappoints him, but that's okay, it is my (body, self, integrity, property, skill, etc.) and not his to take or demand" as opposed to the subtle dangerous suggestion that "If I say no, I disappoint him, and that is not okay." 

Consent has been the hot topic lately with this presidential election season and while it's scary and outright infuriating to have to witness such a show of limitless absurdity, these conversations are happening and bringing much to light. And damn it if this all doesn't need to be brought to the surface and wide out in the open. There is hope in this dialogue and unpeeling of ourselves and what we choose not to talk about or share.

Let's allow for a new attention on the subtleties as well as the outright obvious ways we build humans up around us and either give them the strength and confidence to use their voices and communicate their needs, or create an environment of timidity, fear, stunted and wayward emotions, and reactionary instincts. I intend to help my daughter and my son have the right tools earlier than I did. At thirty seven, I am still finding my voice and strength to speak my needs and my place in the world and it shouldn't take us that long to get there.

And to the sweet angry boy who was turned down, may he find his way, and if we see one another again, I intend to keep the dialogue going so that there is a perspective in his daily routine that suggests an alternative is indeed possible. And if nothing else, I send him Love. 

Applewood Heart 

29 September 2016

Three Heikus~


This, my slanted heart
Found rock at a glacier edge 
New paths forged by grace


Birth canal rockstar
Grit and glitter little girl
My daughter, this Love!

Separation, August 2015:

Train whistle, baby cries
I fold laundry to distract
Full moon, fan clicking


Love, Accidentally and Open

My wedding day was planned for a hot Saturday in August of this year. I went to work that day instead, then to a friend's house. She is a healer and soap-maker and I spent the evening watching her make spa bars, her home filled with the scent of peppermint and tea tree folded into beautiful midnight black wisps of charcoal and salt. When I told my counselor what I had done instead of getting married, she pointed out to me the wonderful symbolism of this, that after about a year of separation from my groom-to-be, who was at this point the groom-not-to-be, I spent the evening in this cleansing act of soap making, washing out the old plans and opening up to the new and very changed reality I've been in now for months. This struck me, and I realized I have come a long way within a year and, while everything is very much still murky, still unknown and in a "process" or a revision, I am not who I was a year ago, and the idea of washing that old self away was refreshing and beautiful and rewarding.

Of course no one intends to have kids with someone, buy a home together, and then fall apart during the major home remodel, and a year later be in this realm of "moving on" of "making a new life plan..." And all while attempting (fairly successfully, all things considered) to parent two children we both can't imagine being away from or devoting any less to. I won't go into specifics, but it's right to say that this separation was a surprise, a heartbreak, a very real cataclysmic kind of life event that took me months to come to terms with and also admit to the world. This news will still surprise some who may read this. I myself have had almost a year to adjust to the non-wedding date and yet when it came up on me, I was surprisingly moved, emotional, and sad. I was no longer in a place of wanting to marry the person I had planned to, I had come to a new place one finds after the heartache, the anger, the rage and pooling life at your feet emotional mess that is a break up of a ten year life together. I was over that hump of daily coping. But on the day in August, I realized I wasn't missing a person, rather I was mourning the idea of my wedding, the marriage that could unfold, and that sense of having a partner for the duration of this trip of life.

I sat in my friends space, reggae on the stereo, a cold rum and soda in my hand, enveloped in this aroma of pampering and healing. Cleansing indeed.

Once this date in time had passed and was survived, I felt things shift ever so slightly, compared to the massively groundbreaking shifts that I had rode within the previous year, like a portion of my life was holding it's breath enough for the day to pass on the calendar before allowing the exhale and then inhale again. And that's when I began to reimagine the "Accidental Heart Project" my son and I had been curating since his infancy, really since before he was born, before I met the not-groom-to-be...and this was an important fact to remember suddenly, how the project was a lot larger than my relationship.

I'll explain about the project.

Do you see hearts out in the world, those spots on the sidewalk, a tree knot, an unintentional splash in your coffee, a river rock?...I do too. I've noticed them for years, made note and mentally collected these little Valentine's from the ether, considered them momentary mementos of the collective Love that is indeed around us and potential in all that we are and do. When my son was a toddler, we started taking photos of the hearts when we stumbled on them in our day, and as the digital file of snapshots grew, we talked about what to do with the hearts. We had a lot of ideas, but when the wedding date was decided and on the horizon, I knew the hearts would be a part of the day in some way, maybe a collage, maybe printed table decor, the ideas were flowing as the plans started to unfold for the big event.

Despite the heartbreak of my failed relationship, my son and I continued to collect the hearts. We banked them whenever we saw them. And each time I had a thought of not knowing what will become of this now that things had changed so. It was a couple of weeks after the wedding date that I started thinking about this project and what it might mean in the new light of my life. What do these hearts now symbolize that they might not have before? Were they always more manifestations of Love from all around, from our internal selves, accidental reminders in our daily routine that we are capable of love, that we have this superpower, all of us, this capability to love and be loved? I wasn't sure of any answers, but it certainly helped my mental state, my heart state, to know that this project had a larger purpose and reason for being, that this was about more, that it could keep going and have a destination that encompassed more than a big party under a tent.

We've called it "Accidental Hearts" because the rules are that the heart must be unintentional, not fabricated to be a heart. We've had to make some tough calls, those hearts that are almost-hearts, but not close enough to the heart shape to qualify. We've had discussions about this, debates and negotiations to decide whether a heart belonged in the collection. Sometimes my son won, sometimes I did. And we keep going. This is an unending journey together.

The idea to share this, came to me on a day when I was feeling lame about not writing more, and also knowing I had to boost this blog into a regular habit, for the tenth time, and also with the incentive that my son starts kindergarten as a homeschooler this Fall and wants desperately to learn to read and write and we need daily little assignments or projects of the creative kind to fuel this. He wants to contribute some poems, I will contribute some poems and writings, along with the posted photos from our heart database.

This is where we have come with this. I think of "heart on your sleeve", "open heart", "broken heart"... How we imagine love to be in our lives, how then life teaches us love in all its broken and imperfect and ravaged and glorious forms. How love comes from outside and from within almost as if accidentally and unintentionally and the surprise when we actually notice it, when we feed it, when we allow it to grow and become...How does your Love become? How have you reimagined Love? How have you survived Love? How have you begun to Love yourself or another after not loving for a long long time? How has Love swept you off balance and made you reexamine every corner of your self? This has been the work of the last year for me, not an ending, but rather a waking up to what Love means and the power of the kind of love I want in my life, the kind I already have around me, and the intentional life I am living now that I wasn't quite living before the shakeup. And I am deeply inside it all still, within the confusion and change still, but also very much more aware than I thought I could be.

I am so astoundingly grateful for my life and the support I have received in various forms in my life, and for the self-awareness and gradual evolution that has taken place and continues every day to move forward and upward.

Here are our hearts and words...

24 January 2015

Blog Revival! or, My Once-Every-Few -Years Blog Post!

There will be no excuses, no explanations, not a word of guilt or shaming. I simply don't have time to explain why I am attempting a blog-revival yet again, though one place to start is to say this:

I have suddenly begun to write a little again in the recent weeks, and I am going to roll with it.

The following is a draft (a DRAFT) of a poem I've been working on. Comments or suggestions welcome, though seeing that I post about every few years, I may not take your suggestions. Though I will cherish them.

"On Hearing of the Death of a Friend's Son, While Postpartum with My Second Child"
For Kim

There is a phenomenon known to mothers only.
It is the auditory hallucination of a child crying while you are standing in the shower,
hurried and rapidly washing, only to come out and the child
is still breathing in his sleep in the basinet.

Or an hour after the bedtime rocking and singing and cooing and hushing and
shhhh ssshh  shshsh  ssshhing has finally stopped,
you are at the kitchen table, alone with a book, and through the refrigerator buzz,
or the heat clicking on, you hear the real muffling sound of the baby
fussing in her room across the house,
only to find her still and dreaming when you rush to the side of her crib.

What must the mother continue to hear after her child dies? I suspect this hallucination
becomes ever stronger, and as we miss their breath

their muffled selves just beyond the curtain to the other world,
how could we possibly hear anything else?

I am driving across town to pick up my son from preschool.
I have just weeks earlier given birth to my daughter.
I am a wreck of nerves, postpartum "baby-blues", and sleep deprivation
like no one knows, mothers only know.

I am driving. It is the shock of my friend losing her son that comes to me in the car.
It's been a few days since I heard the news, and I cried then,
but this mundane task,
is suddenly how I think of her
because in my condition, after birth, the hormones,
I am as fragile as I have ever been and I imagine she is also.
I imagine driving to the store could be the most impossible task for her right now.

My exhaustion is from the hard hard work that is bringing in a new life
to this world, the attention, the fear, the awe, the unbearable responsibility and coping.

Her exhaustion is the hard hard work of grief that is to lose life
the attention, the fear, the awe, the unbearable coping and sleeplessness.

So I think of her, at the traffic stop.

In this pause, in my state of what it takes to nurse
all night a newborn, the drained body and mind, I suspect she feels the same.
And I weep.
Because how can this lovely being of newness in my daughter
be so frighteningly similar to my friend's loss and pain?

I am mourning her loss, yes, but I am mourning her work as a mother.
Her hard hard work in those early days with him.
How we do the dailyness of mothering despite what could happen,
despite what they will become, their own selves we must release to the world and its many demons and graces.

I am mourning her sore nipples, yet her son's head pressed to the breast
in the closest moments they will ever share and this moment is infinity.
Eyes locked and in desperate desperate love for the other.
Mothers only know this.

I am mourning her cramped calves because we've both been in the bathroom
the kitchen, the front porch, the stairway,
wherever we needed to be with the newborn and their utter inability to sleep
without movement.
I am mourning all the steps she took to keep him settled and asleep
in the darkness of the house.
Because I know this work right now, it's all very present
so present and immediate, the care of the infant.
We forget there will ever be an adult
after this, we forget because if we truly thought about it, we'd cripple at the idea in those early weeks.
So we nurse and dance and hum and wash and rock and sway and nurse again instead.

I am mourning her hallucinations and dreams we've all had, mothers know,
for our babies. For our babies. Before they are men or women and make decisions of their own.

I am at a stoplight in tears because this work is impossibly hard.
In the beginning
and the end.

And what I know, is that we don't ever stop listening for our babies in the next room. Even after they've grown
and gone.


29 October 2011

Let's Pretend, Baby, Because the Revolution Outside Needs Our Magical Minds

"One berry, two berry, pick me a blueberry"

I recite these words at least once a day, sometimes five or six. Bruce Degan's children's book "Jamberry" has been a longtime favorite. It was the first board book I bought the baby when he was just a few months old and already showed an unusually obsessive love for the books on the bookshelves throughout our house. It was a defining moment as a new mother, as a writer, and as a lover of books. It didn't matter that he wouldn't know the words until months later, I brought "Jamberry" home and read it through to the "berry" end while the baby shifted in my arms, still a newborn, still so far from words.

We just celebrated the first year with our son. And at this marker in his young life, I can say the babe's love of books has only grown into more of an obsession than I thought possible. We've blockaded the shelves for the first few feet up with end-tables, baby gates, and toy boxes so he cannot reach the treasured collection I've amassed over my lifetime. He points eagerly up at the volumes and tries to make the words that he now understands but cannot speak: "I want!" Once a day, at least, I pick him up, pull us close to the shelves and let him touch the bindings with an outstretched pointed finger. We're just close enough for him to touch, but not grab and pull. The tiny thing caresses the titles and lets out a little hiss of breath that simultaneously means "I made it" and "What magic!"

And I couldn't agree more, my son.

His desire for books, now that I can read board books and picture books to him and he understands the words, is insatiable. We read "Caps for Sale" "Good Night Moon" and "Hello Baby!" as frequently as we read "Jamberry" and sometimes it's all in one sitting, one after the other, after the other, and then repeat! Did I ever guess I might start to grow tired of reading? Not really, but these days, I am surprised to hear myself say, "let's do something else, let's not read books right now" and I am simultaneously so proud of this little child of mine, and so exhausted from reading the same lines over and over that he's grown to cherish.

What follows a new understanding of the words on the page? Imagination and pretend.

Within a week of turning one, this boy astounded me when he reached out to the page where a little boy and a bear tumble in a wonderfully imagined world of berries and dancing animals, and from the pictured bounty of blueberries, raspberries and strawberries, my smiling son plucked an imaginary juicy sample and brought it to his mouth and made a smacking-lipped tasting sound with his lips and tongue. I was shocked and brought to a few joyous tears at witnessing my son's first display of pretending!

I immediately followed suite and took my own berry or two and "mmmm" "yum!" tasted the sweetness of that moment and laughed as he repeated and copied my "mmmm" sound. I was a proud momma that day.

These days, I am wrapped up in my jobs teaching young adults how to navigate their lives and educate themselves, and helping a local cafe kitchen run smoothly. Between everything, I am trying to stay engaged and aware of a growing movement of change on our streets where my fellow citizens are pushing up against the walls of a system that has somehow lost it's imagination and ability to honor the integrity of a life that allows someone to feed more than just their bank accounts, their cars, or their greed. I am witnessing a newly imagined system of inclusion and speaking where the one, and then the many, are heard.

I am honored to witness this revolution.

Whatever one might think of this wave of protest and call for action, it cannot be denied there is a new united voice out there in the streets and it calls for justice on a most basic human level, without discrimination, without waiver, and without a motive of greed or partisanship.

For the first time in my lifetime, I can say I see a horizon of real change coming, and my son can one day know change is possible when people gather, use their voice and hold the shameless and corrupt corporations accountable by those they use, abuse and strive to silence.

My last thought here is of the ballot envelope that sits on my desk along with the Voter's Pamphlet.

People, the system may be flawed, may be unrepresentative of you, may be corrupt, may be disenchanting. It is darn near without imagination or innovation these days. Yet it is the system we have to work within right now, and until this changes, as it will, we must use it to our advantage and exercise our right to vote. While many rights are being challenged, and are at great risk in the streets and in the halls of justice as I write, I think the message of the occupiers remains a very loud: TAKE BACK YOUR RIGHTS and ENGAGE IN YOUR DEMOCRACY!!

So please, please take the few minutes it takes to educate yourselves on the issues on the ballot and vote, vote, vote. I know it's a bit cliche to bring this up, but it's anything but cliche for those who have lost their lives and loved ones: people outside of the U.S. are risking their lives to cast one vote, sometimes the first vote in their adult lifetime.

The baby stirs. Until next time, keep imagining, keep aware, seek out the truth, and be safe! ~AD.

06 October 2011

Facing Forward While Looking Back

What does a blogger do when she has blog-block? I'll start with a list and then offer two poems. The list is:

"A Week of Distractions, and Why I Cannot Start This Blog Post"

Baby taking first steps.
Baby teething, thus baby-holding ALL day long!
Baby with first fever ever, up all night taking temperature and assuring dad the baby is "fine" while excessively worrying, listening to breath after shallow sleeping breath with my finger on the doctor's number.
Keeping up with the patriotism of Occupy Wall Street!!
Working two day-jobs and getting to both on time!
Not-showering because of all of the above.
Making two cakes for two friends, one gluten-free and covered with strawberries, the other a tall chiffon.
Making fresh butter.
Planning a first birthday party for baby.

I sent my thesis to an old friend today. It's the first time the manuscript has really seen any quality attention since I graduated this past July. I was prompted to skim through the poems and learned once again, when in any kind of block, writing or otherwise, it helps to take a look back before going forward. I've been looking back a lot these days because my son's first birthday is close and I cannot believe a year has passed or what changes have occurred in him, and come to think of it, in myself as well. Last October, I was still in graduate school and typing out poems in the early hours of morning and into the night.

The following poems were written for my thesis, a collection of poems about family, death, pregnancy, and motherhood as I've experienced them thus far. "Crescendo" is a poem written after seeing the first ultrasound image of my son. "Motherhood I" was written in those first few days after his birth. Both poems are serving me now as I plan to write a letter to my new one-year-old over the next week. Not sure how to start such a letter, yet, I do know the act of looking back at his start is where to begin; those first impressions, those first fears and joys. It is my hope that the letter will be a way he can "remember", through my words, his first year of life. Chiffon batter, teething tears, revolutions, and all!!

The blue image of your spine on the ultrasound is translucent
yet appears solid as cast fossil imprints.
Your father, brought to tears, reaches for my hand in the warm room.
The monitor hums while the nurse coos at the clarity of your image.
We see you

yet I am not weeping, as I thought. I am in school-girl awe,
as when we first opened our Earth Science textbook
and learned of magma, river deltas and our collective core.
I can’t stop looking because your back is riveted, vertebrae
like ridges on a dry creek bed in August. How I smoothed my seven
year old fingers over the crusted work of rain, remembered, the sound
even, of Spring’s flushing clean

and my sense of the world-spin in tall grass and goldenrod.
I am looking at your movement, you are so much more than “tadpole,”
than “hummingbird” heart we see clear as the night sky
over desert or sea.
I am as a pre-teen crushed by first love,
breathless butterfly crush, kissed from the inside out,
the day moves forward slow, life suddenly refracted

and I know I am done for when I’ve looked at your moving
image we copied, first still-life portrait,
ten times in an hour. Like I’ve received your first
Valentine and I am blushing head to toe
with each new reading of your signature.
We see you

and it feels we’ve discovered
a new generation of species, like we are kid-
scientists alone in the wild and knowing we’ve found
evidence of something magic beyond our little
minds, unable to wait to tell anyone, everyone!
hysterically excited as we run and run and run.
We see you. 

Motherhood I

On the fifth day or so, I begin to realize
                                    this knot in my gut, in my throat,
            love and terror
at your dependence and perfection
            of fingernail and elbow,
will remain with me
until my last day. I can no longer walk away from my life.
            Beautiful baby: you’ve consumed my core
and for the first, I feel absolute.
            In an instant, knowing I would spend the rest of my life
building a ladder to the moon if it made you smile,
I begin to see what I’ve signed on for: something as involuntary
            as my need for water and air.

This is
             night upon night whispering in the dark
to the feathery hair on the back of your neck
                        how I love you more than the world
and it is truer than I could have imagined
            because I cannot remember life before you—
                        my memories somehow have you hovered there.

This is
            waking and fearing
the dream has distracted me from your tiny breathing chest.

This is
            walking from the kitchen door, through
the backyard carrying the garbage, because I need
the walk, after birth,
and the fresh air, and suddenly
it is the longest and the farthest I’ve gone from you
since you were conceived.

The appreciation for sunlight
            on my skin
                        is overwhelming as I panic
at the thought of our tether
being stretched this taut. 


23 September 2011

Crossing Over

First day of Autumn. The day when the sun crosses over the equator to the other side. Crossing over is happening in my house a lot lately. The baby is crossing over thresholds of growth each day. And this week it is the threshold of being a crawler to a walker. He hasn't yet taken a real independent step, though we expect it at any moment as he's "walking" with a hand held, and standing any chance he gets. Proud smile while standing as if he's about to take off running.
I can see it all calculating and making sense to him day-by-day.

All this physical and seasonal change brings to mind what I was doing this time last year. I was hugely pregnant and nesting for the babe to arrive. I was cooking large batches of soup and apple sauce. I was a day-dreamer and about to be flung into a new life, another side of the world.

Cooking is my passion. Cooking with ease and clarity, organized and neat, this is how I like to exist in my kitchen. My body felt highjacked last September, but I was able to cook at my pace, to imagine this little person soon to come, and take my time. These days, my kitchen feels highjacked.

Cooking, that which is usually and now rarely, my escape, comes in spurts with a babe at my ankles, clawing at my pant leg, squealing from a high chair he hates to be confined in, or in my arm while I try to do anything I can with the other arm. Anyone who looked on would experience a mix of disturbed awe, and impressed anxiety, just how it feels to cook these days.

Faced with a few bananas that went far too long on the counter, I decided to make banana bread last night. Oh, but let's experiment and make banana gingerbread instead. Now how to execute this with a cranky eleven month old who wants his little paws in everything I do.

Let's just say, it's a bit of a mad scrambling of mixing, dashing from the pantry to the kitchen (which are divided by a baby gate one must hop over) for ingredients with baby at my heels, picking him up because he's cried too long while I've cracked in the eggs and melted butter on the stove, because adding dry to wet can be done one handed and all the while singing everything I do, in real time, so he learns the words, so he is distracted by this crazy mother he's been assigned to and so he might just be entertained by the sing-song of my voice long enough for me to get the damn batter into the pan and into the oven before he scrambles over to it as the hot hot door opens and closes before him! Whew! And that's the short short version. Never mind skipping over the boat in the middle of the floor, then actually tripping over the potato masher I thought was a good "toy" during this experiment.

None of this will sound unfamiliar or strange to any mom out there who cooks. Yet it's times like these that remind me, every day I am a new mom, to appreciate my time and value those moments I am able to engage in the passions of life without chaos at my feet. Because they are seldom. And one day, the baby will not be eagerly awaiting my every move, wanting in, wanting part of, wanting inclusion. One day, soon, he will be walking, and from that moment on he will continue to step over thresholds as life gets ever larger for him. And I will, on the inside, beg for the days when he is this wrapped around my life.

Here's the adapted recipe. And a picture to show how my kitchen life has changed from neat and orderly to a confused mess of life on the counter top, locked cupboards, and whirring past us at break-neck speed.

Banana Gingerbread (adapted from the Cook's Illustrated "The New Best Recipe")

In a mixer on medium speed, combine:
3/4 cup molasses, one stick melted butter, 3/4 cup sugar, one egg. Add 1/2 cup buttermilk and 1/2 cup milk.

In a separate bowl, combine:

2 cups flour, one teaspoon baking soda, one teaspoon salt, two teaspoons ground ginger, one teaspoon cinnamon, one teaspoon ground cloves, one teaspoon nutmeg, one teaspoon allspice.

Mash two over-ripe bananas and add to the wet mix in mixer.

Gradually add dry to wet while mixing. Scrape the bowl if necessary, don't over mix.

Pour batter in a greased 7"x10"pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 min. or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center.

Enjoy warm with whipped cream.

Happy Autumn to all! May you cook in peace and enjoy every moment and every bite even more!
With love ~AD.

16 September 2011

Polar Bear Momma

It is 9:21pm on a Friday night and I have managed to take all of my vitamins, brush my teeth, wash my face, with soap! apply toner!! and still have some juice in me before the baby stirs and realizes I am not next to him at which point I will head to bed, catch up on Facebook via an iPhone app, and maybe add a play to my Words with Friends game I've had running for a couple days now, all while nursing the sleepy child back to dreaming, before drifting to sleep myself. This blog post is my last attempt at something "productive" today in a moment of quiet and stillness that feels stolen and fleeting these days.

I am thinking tonight about the type of mother I have chosen to become. Specifically about sleep and choosing to co-sleep with my baby. It's a damn lazy choice, though not without its costs and challenges. I say lazy, because the nature of co-sleeping allows for a baby's needs to be met immediately and with as little movement on the mother's part. He is eleven months old this week and he and I have somehow evolved together into a bundled mass where he is able to find the nipple in his sleep and I am able to sleep through his rooting and feeding, barely noticing the shifting and prodding.

This is how most nights of the week drift blissfully by.

Then there are the nights that look like this: Momma waking with baby's leg flung across her abdomen,  his torso stretched up over her breast, his little neck and head deadweight from sleep and across her face, cheek to neck! He's pushed his way so close there is no space for breathing.

I slowly attempt to remove the body from my body without waking him and his reaction is to flail and squirm in such a way that it flings his body back up over and on top of mine in an equally contorted and inconceivable position before I have time to shift my own limbs or protest. And he does all this without waking.

I am reminded of the mother polar bear I saw on a nature show. Her cubs are rolling, tumbling, grabbing, biting, and clambering over her and she is a stoic lump, only moving once in a while to casually slough them off her, or catch one as he rolls a little too far over the ice. I can only dream to be so nonchalant at 3am and wanting only to sleep, uninterrupted and without a human growth glued to my face. But then again, I am as that polar momma. I let the baby be the baby. I let him sleep the way he sleeps best, even if it's curled into my neck, or face stretched up into my armpit and hands clasping my thumb and hair, so entwined and locked together.

This was my choice. I chose the path of least resistance in parenting. And I've read all the books. I am a very well-informed decision-maker when it comes to parenting thus far. There isn't one choice I've made without consulting every expert, mother, grandmother, and website out there for the best possible option for my child. I am sound in my co-sleeping arrangement. I do not always sleep soundly, however. But then, what mother truly does. Sacrifice is the name of this game.

On this rare night where the baby has fallen asleep before I am ready and willing to crash with him, I am savoring the opportunity to wash my face like I once did, when I cared what my face looked like the next day. I care more now for the magical moment when dreaming begins after a day of chasing my almost-walker from one "no" to the next "no!" (the decision to use "no" is another joy of parenting, if one can call it a decision of parenting. Again, I chose the lazy route here, knowing I am incapable of the dedication it takes to conduct a household where "no" is used sparingly and all other avenues of communicating are utilized first. I bow to any mother who takes that on.)

To sleep to dream. To sleep to sleep to sleep. To sleep in...

Goodnight all, that's all I have in me to say, on that. ~AD.