Newsy Update

Oh my gosh, I have not given up blogging, I promise.  This summer has just been very distracting, for reasons not bad but still not blog-able.  I’m actually having a great summer, mainly since I, like Swistle, set the bar veeery low in terms of expectations this year.  As long as we have food in the cupboards, clean dishes to eat the food on, and clean underwear in everyone’s drawers, I consider it winning.

So here’s a very cursory update on the summer so far: I’ve read a ton of great books, the kids have done several fun day camps this year, we took a week long trip to the beach on Lake Huron, and our sweet old dog finally passed away after a long (generally) happy life with us.  He was only really unwell for a day or two before he died, but unfortunately this all happened while we were gone on vacation, so my kind brother in law and neighbors were the ones with him when he passed away.  I am so grateful to them for taking care of such an unpleasant issue with such delicacy.  And I still feel really sad that we weren’t there to pet and talk to him.  That part was the hardest to get over, really.  He was fourteen years old and a very big dog, so frankly we (and the vet) were amazed he had lived this long.  And I’m really thankful he was never very sick or suffering much, that we knew of.  Just wish I could have been there to tell him thank you for being such a sweet, patient dog.

In other news, I got… a tattoo!  A pretty huge one actually.  I’ve been planning to get one for the kids basically ever since I had Adelay, but always in this vague, nonspecific way.  I just knew at some point I wanted to get one. Then a month or so ago, in a wine bar, Jim and I ran into an old friend from years ago who is a very good tattoo artist.  It felt like fate- Talia is two now and I am still totally sure I am done having kids, I’ve actually lost all the baby weight and then some, finally, so my body is in good shape to get one, and now here was this guy back in town, ready to help me design the perfect tattoo.  And we did!

It’s a family tree type thing, on the left side of my waist, from the top of my ribs all the way onto my hip (bonus: we designed it so all my stretch marks on that hip are covered!)  It has all the kids’ initials and birthdates, and the Greek word storge (which is a word that I found in the novel The Hungry Season this summer, describing familial love, or “love that is a gift,” between parents and children) going up the trunk of the tree.  It took seven hours total to do it, and wow, it hurt.  Like, way more than I realized it would going into it, even though everyone warned me it was a hard place to get one.  Partly it was the location on my body, partly it was just how long it took, and partly it’s that every pain coping technique I generally use (position change, deep breathing) is useless while getting tattooed on your waist- you can’t move, and you aren’t supposed to breathe while they’re doing the lines, just in between.  But it was totally worth it, and I LOVE it so so much.  It’s so unique and special to me.  I will post a picture of it soon, but I don’t have a good one yet and it’s not a hundred percent healed.  Most of it is, but I had to go for a second session to get it finished so that’s part’s a bit raw still.

All right then!  I feel caught up with you all a bit.  I will try to be better about posting.  I promise I haven’t forgotten about my poor lil blog wasting away out here.  I’m sure when the winter depression hits and I’m holed up watching Downton Abbey reruns and eating my feelings I’ll be checking in waaay more often again!

Full Frontal

It’s always been a running joke among my family and friends that I’m the “naked” one.  I was always the sister who could never remember where she left her bathrobe and who ran in various states of undress from shower to bedroom to bathroom and back again, in search of various beauty products but not in any rush to put on a bra or pants.  I just feel clothes are overrated.  I’ve never had an innate sense of modesty I guess, in the context of my body.  I wouldn’t say I’m attention seeking with my body, and I’m really really not an exhibitionist, but I’ve never felt like there was anything embarrassing or even inherently sexual about nudity in and of itself.  It’s just a body, y’all.  I know I’m in the minority, and Lord knows I was actually raised to be more “modest” physically, but for some reason it just never took with me.

I got to thinking about all this because I read this article in the Huffington Post today about nudity among women and just loved it.  It’s pretty short, so if you have a minute I really recommend it.  I’ve said it before, but the disparity in the comfort level with one’s own body between men and women (in general!) in our culture is something that has always irritated me.  We all have parts of ourselves we dislike, even the thinnest or tannest or biggest breasted of us, oh yes, and we all probably have quirky little things we secretly love about ourselves too.  But end of the day, we’re made of the same basic stuff.  Everyone feels like their bodies hide these deep dark secrets and I’m here to tell you it isn’t so- you are flesh and blood and skin and hair and cellulite and genitals, just like the rest of us.  No surprises.

“…real women have bumps and lumps, cellulite in places you didn’t even know you could have cellulite, scars, tattoos, and funny-shaped breasts and areolas. Skinny girls can have flabby tummies, and fat women can be gorgeous. I would say that nudity is the great equalizer, except it’s actually the opposite: nudity reveals how immensely varied we are. And it also demonstrates how grossly manipulated we’ve been when it comes to seeing our own bodies.”

I love that: nudity is the great equalizer.  It is so comforting to look around, on a nude beach, for instance, or in a spa like the one she talks about, and confirm that yes indeed, here we all are, bodies in all shapes and sizes, colors, etc, a myriad of differences but the same basic parts- some beautiful, some funny, some bumpy, some hairy.  And then move on.  Because we’re really just all here to feel the sun or the water on our skin and not mess with wet Lycra.  That is the point of it all, to sprawl out luxuriously like a cat.  A cat who doesn’t give two craps if they have saggy boobs thanks to their big ole litter of kittens.

But that’s not to say we have to unilaterally celebrate every little thing about ourselves.  I’m all for being a realist, looking at things frankly.  Very few of us have bodies that are universally appealing or which entirely meet even our own standards of aesthetic beauty, and I think that’s ok to say.  One doesn’t have to celebrate their stretch marks or fat dimples anymore than one should feel reduced by their presence.  It’s all right to just accept the reality that they are there, and that we would change them if we could, but we can’t, or don’t want to do what might be required to change them.  That’s such a gasp-inducing thing to say out loud in our society: “Yes, I have a fat roll.  No, it doesn’t bother me enough to spend my free time fighting it.  And it’s my body, so that’s my decision.”

Ex: my least favorite body parts are my thighs and my jawline.  This is pretty well known.  Even when I’ve been my personal adult thinnest, I still had unusually round, thick thighs and kind of a double chin thing going on.  I’ve come a long way in terms of acceptance of these body parts, but they are not things I personally find attractive about myself.  If I were drawing myself, I’d erase those and start over.  But here we are.  I could get plastic surgery for the chin (no,) or diet hardcore for the thighs, but even then I doubt they’d look quite like what I see as a beautiful set of legs.  And it would be a lot of effort, and I don’t get paid to be beautiful or thin, so I don’t care enough to work that hard.  There, I said it.  I own it.

My favorite feature is my lips.  Definitely.  And here’s something kind of funny- my favorite body part is my collarbone.  I have always thought I had a nice collarbone area, and if you know me irl you know I tend to wear shirts on the lower-cut side.  This is not a desire to constantly flash what little cleavage I possess, but simply a natural inclination, when purchasing clothes, to choose things I think highlight my assets.

I used to dislike a lot of things about my face, if I’m honest.  My body I was mostly ok with (thighs aside!) but I could pick my face APART, man.  The jawline thing, which still annoys me.  My round cheeks.  My hair texture.  Bump in my nose.  I wore makeup to try to hide and disguise things, not to accentuate them.  I have come a long way from that person, thankfully- I have finally found a haircut I love and which I think suits me, and now I like my hair!  Never thought that would happen.  I have made peace with my nose, and no longer try to “contour” it with bronzer (insert giant eyeroll here, I know.)  And even the round, chubby cheeks I am starting to view as an interesting, distinguishing feature now.  While we were on vacation a month ago, this lovely older woman who sold me coffee said to me haltingly, after taking my order, “I just… I just love your face!”  English was obviously not her first language and she gestured for a second as she searched for a word.  “It’s just so… soft.”

I kid you not, I will probably remember that compliment til the day I die, it meant that much to me.  A stranger observed my soft, chubby cheeks and found them lovable!  This made me want to cry with gratitude.  And cry for myself, that I am almost thirty years old and needed the kindness of a stranger to help me love my own face.

I’m really curious today to hear from you all- what are your feelings about your own naked body, about the face in the mirror?  Would you ever go to a nude beach, take nude photos, or go to the type of spa the author of the article above describes?  Do you think you view others’ bodies and faces the same way as you do your own? What are your favorite and least favorite body parts or facial features, and why?




Trailing Wisps of Glory

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Maya Angelou
(Edit: So sorry about the formatting.  Word Press is once again randomly refusing to allow double spaced paragraphs… WHY?)
I haven’t posted in so long, but when I heard today that Maya Angelou has died, I felt like it was time to write again.  Lots of authors have touched me, lots of poets, lots of women.  But I felt that Maya was so unique because she dealt with truly heavy, dark topics in her writing (just as she had to in her own life) and was nonetheless one of the most determinedly, unabashedly optimistic voices I have ever read.  I also felt she was gifted in her ability to deal very specifically with race issues and yet in her wisdom and her attitude, transcend race altogether.  She was a truly empathetic and wise human being.  Every time I saw a picture of her I wished (this is weird, but I’ll say it) that she could give me a hug.  I feel like she was probably a great hugger.
Maya was, in no particular order, a poet, a prostitute, an author, a fry cook, a dancer, a civil rights activist, a producer, and an actress.  She is a great example of how to learn from the past and take those lessons forward without dragging the baggage and shame along, too.
One of the best gifts I was given when I graduated was a journal, from my Mom, with Maya Angelou quotes on every page.  I still haven’t filled it fully, but I use it to write down all kinds of things that inspire me.  Some of my favorites, though, are the ones that were already on the pages.
This is my life.
It is my one time to be me.
I want to experience
every good thing.
Each of us has the right and responsibility to assess the roads which lie ahead and those over which we have traveled, and if the future road looms ominous or unpromising, and the roads back uninviting, then we need to gather our resolve, and, carrying only the necessary baggage, step off that road into another direction.
If you only have one smile in you, give it to the people you love.
We need art to live fully and to grow healthily.  Without art, we are dry husks drifting aimlessly on every ill wind; our fortunes are without promise, and our present without grace.
Everything has rhythm.  Everything dances.
Love builds up the broken wall
and straightens the crooked path.
Love keeps the stars in the firmament
and imposes rhythm on the ocean tides.
Each of us is created of it,
and I suspect
each of us was created for it.
The Art of Living Well
Take great pleasure
in small offerings.
Believe that the world
owes you nothing.
Understand that every gift
given to you
is exactly that.
Realize that people who
differ from you
can be founts of fun.
I will write upon the pages of history what I want them to say. I will be myself. I will speak my own name.
Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.
I believe that each of us comes from the creator trailing wisps of glory.
While I know myself as a creation of God, I am also obligated to realize and remember that everyone else and everything else are also God’s creation.
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
That last one is something I try to keep in mind whenever I do doula work.  I may not remember every massage technique I ever learned or the exhaustive list of potential side effects from a certain pain medication, but if I can help a woman feel safe and empowered, well, that’s not a small thing.
Maya’s last tweet was five days ago (yes, an eighty six year with a twitter account- she was a woman who knew how to adapt gracefully) and it’s so simple and touching.
Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.
Goodbye, Maya.  I hope you passed peacefully.  Thank you for all that you left behind.

Family Creed

Eight plus years into this parenting gig, I am now convinced that my kids’ unofficial motto is “Never EVER pass up the opportunity to have a bowel movement in a horrifyingly dirty public restroom.”  Their dedication to this credo is impressive.

Their OFFICIAL motto is yet to be released, but I’d guess it has something to do with breaking my spirit and goes along the lines of, “United we push her over the edge, divided we only make her another crabby wino.”

The Best Mommy Ever

I remember Swistle or somebody talking once about what we perceive to be our biggest parenting weakness, and she and many others cited short temper as their own.  For myself it has almost always been selfishness with my time, or at least that’s what I thought.  But I think I may have switched camps somewhere along the lines without realizing it, because I just threw a temper tantrum to rival any of the kids (though I didn’t throw anything and I didn’t tell anyone I hated them, so they still win.)

It was a Perfect Storm, it really was- I still have a cold, and Talia’s had a cold all week and been very clingy, grouchy (could have something to do with that head injury! haha!) and also sleeping poorly due to the new bed sitch.  So that sucked, and since she was requiring so much Lap Time during the day, and not napping, the house was unusually gross going into the weekend which just automatically makes me crabby anyways.  I am left with the choice to either a) knock myself out doing a week’s worth of scrubbing in two days, leaving me kind of manic and exhausted but also mentally soothed by The Clean, or b) scratch the chores and try again next week, leaving me somewhat relieved but mostly agitated because mess makes my brain hurt.

Also, Adelay had soccer tournaments in Cincinnati Saturday, so I was at home all day with the three little kids while Jim coached.  I tried really hard to make sure we had a fun day- took them to lunch, then took them to the coffee shop for smoothies (where one employee noted to me, apropos of my boys clambering around putting on the show called This Is Why You Can’t Take Us Anywhere, that he’s getting more and more sure he doesn’t want kids) and then we went to the park AND the playground.  But after all that, do you think anyone was happy or content or grateful?  Nope.  In fact the whole way home one of my kids threw a screaming fit, complete with throwing of shoes and threats to leap from the moving vehicle, because I wouldn’t take them to the pharmacy to buy more Pokeman cards even though we had JUST BOUGHT SOME THE DAY BEFORE.

The afternoon sucked as I tried to clean our filthy house while Talia whined and cried from her room because NO CRIB, and hooligan boys ran around thwarting me (ex: ten minutes after I cleaned the boys’ bathroom mirror and sink, I found Jameson “cleaning” same with toothpaste) and beating each other over the head with toys.  I tried giving the boys a bubble bath to distract them from killing each other, but while I was in the other room folding laundry, they turned the jets on in my tub and my hand to God, when I walked in my entire bathroom was covered in foam, with two sheepish but kind of gleeful faces peering out from these MOUNDS of bubbles.  You couldn’t even see the tub anymore.  I had to laugh or I would’ve cried.  Then Jim got home with Addy and everyone was so very happy to see him and I just felt like chopped liver, inside cooking dinner while they all flocked joyfully around him outside as though they’d been trapped with Mommy Dearest all day.  Oh and then no one would eat.  Of course.

Today was even worse.  Jim and Addy had to leave at five thirty am, so I was home with the littles again.  I couldn’t do church because Tali’s still so germy looking, plus I still had lots of laundry/cleaning to do!  Yay!  But I back burnered cleaning for the morning, played outside with the kids instead, then we all went to the store to get birthday presents for the two different parties my kids were expected at this afternoon.  I resisted the siren song of fast food and made us lunch at home, put the baby down for a nap (at least that part went ok today!) and took the kids to their parties while Jim dozed.  BTW, I don’t begrudge him a nap, he had an exhausting weekend too.  Plus he totally killed a rather large snake (which, wtf! snake!?) in our yard within minutes of getting back from Cinci, with a shovel, and I didn’t have to even lay eyes on the thing, so I think that earned him some points.

Anyways, I ran an errand, then got home and chilled for awhile before I had to leave again to pick the kids back up.  As soon as I got them home, the shenanigans began again.  I asked them to clean their rooms while I made dinner, and…

Actually, it’s occurring to me that someday my children may not appreciate me detailing their behavior in such excruciating detail.  But let’s just say that despite lots of patient guidance and attempts to help with the cleaning without actually doing it for them, the fit throwing and procrastinating and refusal to cooperate whatsoever left me with a bit of the rage.  One child attempted to run away, twice, because I am SO MEAN, another kid bit his brother so hard he left teeth marks, another kid tried to hit ME, etc etc.  And during this time Jim had unfortunately had to leave to do his own errand, so I was on my own with what appeared to be demon possessed children, frankly.  After about an hour and a half of chaos, in which time I did dishes and cleaned the house while putting one kid in time out, taking another kid’s toys away, thwarting two different runaway attempts, and speaking very sharply quite a lot, Jim got home and went out to grill the burgers I had prepared.  And lo and behold, the damn grill would not turn on.  Totally dead, even though it was fine a week ago.  So then I got to cook burgers on my griddle and spatter myself with hot grease.

Whatevs, no big deal, at least everyone ate and loved their dinner and was being very polite to me after a Come To Jesus talk from Jim about straightening up and flying right.  But then he had to leave again at eight thirty, for a previous engagement to watch Game of Thrones with his HBO-having coworker.  And I know I am being a baby but this makes me a little jealous because I love that show too but someone has to stay with the kids and obviously it’s going to be me since I barely even know this guy.  This is perfectly fair, and I get my nights out too so it’s not like a martyr thing here, it’s just that I really do want to watch it.  So off he goes, and here I am with two kids in the bath and dinner to clean up and tucking in to do.

All goes well at first, kids get pajama-ed and are meant to be brushing their teeth while I change Talia, when suddenly I hear screeching and chasing and this weird wet sound as well.  I turn around and there are puddles and bits of wet toilet paper all through the bathroom, freshly mopped dining room and hallway and the boys are running around chasing each other with a sopping wet roll of toilet paper.  What.  The.  Hell.

I picked up Talia, half dressed and diaper less, and marched them back to the scene of the crime where I handed out towels and ordered, very angrily, that the mess be cleaned up immediately and that teeth brushing happen.  Everyone just stood there staring at me as though puddle mopping was a skill that was utterly beyond them.

“Guys!” I yelled.  I got down to give a visual demonstration of my request.  “Bend down and clean up the water!  Now!”

More blank stares and reluctant whining and protesting about who actually made the mess- hint: apparently no one.

“Jamie!” I yelled again.  “This is your mess, you clean it up.  Take your towel and clean it up NOW!”

Jamie glared at me dolefully and sucked his fingers.  “It’s too hard!  You do it!”

And that it when my brain died, you guys.  I just SNAPPED.  I haven’t felt that nuts since I was a hormonal teenager.  I screamed, I screeched, I grabbed shoulders, I just acted like a lunatic.  There was lots of incoherent venting about how I am not a maid, how it’s too much, cleaning up after a whole houseful of people who seem to completely disregard me, how I am so tired of being treated this way, blah blah blah.  It was ugly.  I was crying a little, even.  Everyone backed away with wide eyes from the blubbering maniac.

“Just forget it!” I yelled weepily.  “Just go to bed, everyone- I’ll clean this up since it’s obviously too much for you!  Just go!”  I marched them back down the hallway and into their room, then sat on the floor, shaking.  Eli approached me cautiously, as one might a feral cat, and said in a soothing, manly tone, “It’s all right, Mom.  Just take a deep breath.  You’re just a little worked up right now.”  He patted my shoulder kindly.

Then I did start crying, OBVIOUSLY.  “I’m sorry,” I wailed.  I grabbed Jamie into a hug and sat on the floor sniffling and babbling about how sorry I was and how badly I’d behaved and how I didn’t control myself and, you know, all the sorry.  Lots of sorry.  Sorry sorry sorry.  I felt sick at how unhinged and scary I must have seemed to my kids.

I tucked them in very gently and kissed them and said sorry again and explained that it had just been a long weekend and I was worn down from people not cooperating with Mommy ahem ahem but that of course that was no excuse, and I just needed to go relax and settle down now huh?  Jamie patted my cheek from his bed and said, in his little voice that is so cute because it’s still lispy and babyish but his tone is so serious, “You’re the best Mommy ever!”

And then I died.  The end.  Blergh.


End Of An Era

So Talia really helped us resolve that do-we-move-her-out-of-the-crib dilemma by taking a kamikaze type head dive out of it Wednesday night.  The sound of her forehead smacking the wood floor was not exactly something I ever want to hear again.  Poor girl has a giant goose egg that I sure as heck hope looks worse than it feels, so, yeah… No more crib. She’s clearly got the determination and dexterity to heave herself over the side of the side, but not the coordination to make sure she lands, you know, NOT DIRECTLY ON HER FREAKING FACE.

Needless to say, she spent that night in bed with me (being monitored for concussion, natch) and the next morning Jim moved the toddler bed into her room and I took the crib apart.  It’s not going over too well so far- still no successful naps, which I am trying not to panic about because there is no way in hades that she is giving up her nap time just yet.  Then I had to spend AN HOUR AND A HALF in her room the first night, first in the bed with her, then rocking her, then sitting beside the bed patting her back, before she finally succumbed to sleep.  When she woke up that morning and found herself in her new bed she started screaming angrily- it was kind of funny, but kind of not a good omen.  Last night was just as bad, and she ended up in my bed around three am, along with Jameson, where the two of them took turns kicking my kidneys and sleepily flinging their little fists right into my eye sockets.

As I lay there dozing, longing for real, REM-cycle sleep, I couldn’t help but think about that Catherine Newman quote re: sleep after kids: “Nothing can prepare you for the Sleep of the Parents. If sleep is an ocean, then I used to sleep on the floor of it, a sunken thing among the catfish, bubbles blooping from my dreaming mouth towards the surface. Now I sleep in a little rowboat. In a thunderstorm, during a war, with cannons going off all night long. And also sharks.”  I was in the rowboat last night, and boy I have not missed it.  Matter of fact (absolutely true story here) once I finally got into an actual sleep I had a nightmare that I kept taking pregnancy test after pregnancy test, all of them turning up positive, and I just sat there looking at them and wailing, “No!  How?! No!”

Sleep is seriously the hardest parenting issue, in my opinion, because, hello, it is so hard to be rational or stick to a plan when you yourself are so effing tired.  We’ve been lucky with Taliana, she who ninety five percent of the time cheerfully curled up in her crib with her blanket and waved nigh-night, that I’ve kind of blocked out those years of Eli, and sometimes Jamie, needing to be walked and rocked and sung to before we could actually lay them down.  You keep being torn between pity for the baby (poor thing!  he/she has a cold and can’t breathe, or is scared of the dark, or is teething, or, you know, has a cold AND a giant bump on the head AND a new bed to deal with) and pity for yourself (poor me!  I also have a cold, and so much laundry to fold, and so much TV yet to watch…)

Also it was kind of sad taking apart that crib- I  don’t think it’s ever been taken down since Jim first set it up for Adelay almost nine years ago.  Now there was a time in between Eli and Jameson that it was used in our playroom as basically a giant doll/stuffed animal storage receptacle, but we never bothered putting it away because we knew we would use it again soon.  And now, well, it has housed its final occupant, at least in this house.

A month before Addy arrived.  I remember so vividly painting that room all neutral colors and choosing the animal theme, since we didn’t know what we were having despite having had multiple ultrasounds.  It drove me NUTS.  I get so crazy with nesting hormones, and I couldn’t stand not knowing what gender was coming so I could stockpile clothes!

Adelay’s first nap in the crib.  She was SO. TINY.  And aw, this makes me remember her little paci quirk- she always liked having the little handle flipped up to rest on her nose.

I was going to insert a picture of each of the kids in the crib, but hilariously, I couldn’t find pictures of either of the boys in it.  I was probably so happy that they were IN the crib and ASLEEP that my last thought was to go grab the camera and start snapping away.  I know there’s one somewhere of Talia, but I have spent an hour searching for it and am coming up empty handed so, se la vie.  Just know that she was on her tummy, butt in the air with a strawberry embroidered upon it, and she looked like a cherub.  There.  End post.




So I need advise on two matters if anyone would like to weigh in.  Firstly, we are going to San Diego in about three weeks for a wedding (just Jim and I,) but will also have a few days to ourselves for sightseeing/enjoying each other’s company without small kids along.  Does anyone have suggestions for must-see/must-do activities or destinations in and around San Diego?

Secondly, Talia has figured out how to climb out of her crib, even though it’s on its lowest mattress setting.  Now, she did manage this on a night when I had a crib mattress wedge slid under one end to help her with congestion due to allergies, and it hasn’t happened since I took that out (which was IMMEDIATELY, as you can imagine.)  Still, is it dangerous to put her in there anymore?  None of our other kids ever achieved this prior to being moved into toddler beds around age two and a half.  She’s twenty one months now, but I’m really reluctant to move her out of a crib yet, especially for nap time.  Help me, experienced moms!

The Internet: Helping Us Be Weird Together

So first Elizabeth has ASMR too, and now I find out Linda is, to use her own description, “a creepy whisper tingler” ALSO!  But the final stamp of approval has to be the fact that ASMR has now been written about on Oprah’s website.  Validation from the queen herself- or at least one of her employees.  It makes me feel much better to know that if I am a weirdo, I’m one of many weirdos.  Solidarity!

I think it’s interesting that people who don’t get tingles seem to specifically DISLIKE all the triggers that people with ASMR seek out- low, half whispered talking, nail tapping, scratching on surfaces, crinkling wrappers, etc.  Depending on the person, you could use these videos as insomnia cures, therapy for anxiety, or as a form of torture during an interrogation.  One thing’s for sure, though: it’s always fun to play someone an ASMR YouTube clip for the first time and watch them react.

My oldest child totally has ASMR, maybe even more strongly than I do- every day after school she comes home and goes straight for the computer and the earbuds to help her unwind for awhile.  My husband, meanwhile, cannot stand any of it and usually flees the room if he hears the “creepy whispering” starting.  Most people I know feel the same.  None of my immediate family gets ASMR, though one sister does at least say she “gets” why people might find it relaxing.  But no one gets tingles except me.  I wonder if it’s a genetic thing or just random?  There’s only been one or two actual medical studies done on the phenomenon so far (that I know of) so I’m sure any data is a long way off.  But I am curious how it works.  Anyone else have it, or have kids that seem to get tingles?

Food For Thought

I’ve listened to this several times now.  Each time a new line strikes me to mull over and digest, but I think my favorite is when she talks about women deciding “how much space they deserve to occupy.”  I am not big on labels so I don’t generally talk about being a feminist or not being a feminist but I will say this: women in this culture, myself included one hundred percent, put way too much weight in their weight.  We know this, but it doesn’t seem to get better.  And it degrades us and weakens us and cheapens us beyond measure.  The more we obsess about inches and pounds, the more easily we are bought and sold to the media and to marketing, the more easily we are distracted from taking part in the real work of improving the world, starting with our own selves.  How many of us hear the term self improvement and instantly think of diet or exercise?  Almost always, right?  How backwards is that?

But we feel our bodies are our bargaining chip.  We feel more powerful, more valuable in our world, the smaller and tighter we get.  We fight, at least in our internal dialogues, with our bodies about appetite and food and inches and stretch marks nearly daily.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve leaned over to pick something up, felt the sag of the skin on my lower belly where pregnancies have stretched it out, and been repulsed.  Repulsed!  And then I get so mad at myself for swallowing the airbrushed garbage on every magazine cover about “body after baby!” and thinking I’ve failed because I haven’t devoted my spare time to forcing my body back into the same shape as it was ten years ago through diet or aerobics or even surgery.  But… why should I want to look like a teenager again?  I’ve evolved into a woman and a mother since then, and I guarantee you I am sexier now than I was at nineteen.  Yes, my hips are wider and my breasts are lower and I have stretch marks but my body is for more than being looked at, and certainly for more than being compared to another woman’s body and found wanting.  Do I believe this?  I want to.

So there’s aging and gravity and then of course there’s the all important weight issue.  While I may look a lot different than I did pre-babies, I really only weigh five pounds more than I did when I got pregnant with Addy- and that may be more a result of age than pregnancies.  But is my weight a health concern?  No.  I am totally healthy.  But I am not thin, really, so I don’t feel like a “hot” person anymore.  (My kids like to remind me of this, because apparently even at eight my daughter has figured out what the finite and clear cut standards are for a woman’s hotness.  Short hair?  Not hot.)  I could be more fit, yes, and so exercising for that reason and for the mental charge of it is a good goal.  But when I strive to exercise, is it really to take care of my body so it can continue to take care of me, or mostly just to look thinner?  Do I exercise to enjoy my body or to punish it for its appetites?

This is obviously a sweeping generalization, but from what I’ve seen men are so much kinder to their aging bodies, forgiving of its softening lines and thickening waist, though they may still make attempts to care for its health simply out of respect for themselves.  They are not, however, based on my observations, nearly as concerned about weight for appearance’s sake, of weight for sexiness’ sake, of weight for self worth’s sake.  I admire this.  This acceptance of their own selves, their own humanity.  This ability to see their body as in fact just a body, to be utilized and enjoyed and to find and give pleasure, and not as a currency, not as a decoration, not as the seat of their power.  Their recognition of their worth beyond what the mirror shows them, and their ability to grab their bellies and laugh and self-deprecate and then eat dessert anyways, is something that has always fascinated me.  I doubt many of them go home to self-loathingly examine their bodies, pinching at the spare flesh on their hips and waists as a nightly ritual before changing into their pajamas.

I could be wrong though.  And I’d also like to make very clear that I don’t see men as the driving force behind the weird, narrow Western ideal of female beauty.  I see it as a problem stemming almost entirely from advertisers trying to sell stuff and cashing in on the Achilles’ heel of women’s psyche- the deep seated, historic link between our bodies and our self worth.  (There’s a whole side-note tangent here that I don’t have time to fully explore, about how women have always been valued for their bodies, but in the past the emphasis was a little less on its beauty and far more on its capacity in child bearing.  We live in a time in which birth rates are on the decline and women aim to look young above all else- the body of a mother is not admired.  Now, I do not yearn to go back to an era when women were reduced to what their uterus happened to produce!  But I do feel nostalgic for a time when a mother of many was at least respected for what her body had accomplished and not made to feel that she should apologize for bearing the marks of her labors.)

I’ll try to wrap this up by just saying that I don’t see anything wrong with enjoying physical beauty, our own and others’, or in wanting to look beautiful- but I want to define, enhance and celebrate my own beauty just as I find it, not try to conform my body, face or hair to someone else’s idea of beautiful.  And, as it happens, I want to be a lot of other things besides and above just beautiful.  I want to fight as intentionally as I can against selling myself so cheaply into slavery to the cosmetics, fashion or weight loss industry.