Monday, September 15, 2014

What Is the Opposite of Crunchy?

An expression used here in sunny Portland, Oregon (what?  It is sunny!) to describe a certain type of person is “crunchy.”  I assume it is used elsewhere as well.  It is a term with negative associations regarding the liberal, hippie-esque tendencies of some of our residents.  Different than hipsters (which run rampant here but you’d never know it if you asked them because they don’t like labels), crunchy granola people are the stereotype of an Oregonian from which some of us want to escape.  But they are not caricatures!  They’re real, live people!  They are generally easy to spot (hemp clothes) or even…smell, but, much like autism, crunchiness is a spectrum, so sometimes people hide behind non-vegan footwear and Starbucks coffee to reveal their inner crunchiness.  There’s also the opposite.  A kid can have a name that’s not on the top 100 for the year and might be in the puffiest cloth diaper there ever was but the parents can otherwise not strike you as crunchtastic. 

It’s a weird word to use: crunchy.  I like my granola crunchy…I’d say that’s good granola.  And these people don’t necessarily eat granola…especially if it’s not gluten free.  It’s certainly a judgment when you hear it.  As the Mommy Wars wage on (on facebook that is), I find myself trying to disassociate myself with the crunchies.  So what’s the opposite of crunchy?  Soft granola?  Bacon?  I don’t know.  It’s a strange form of categorization. 

The official term for “crunchy parenting” is “attachment parenting” which sounds fairly reasonable and has seven main tenants, most of which I do to an extent.  But that’s not what crunchiness has become.  Based on several very official online quizzes, here’s where I stand on the crunch meter. 

Birth Experience/Bonding. 
Crunch level: squishy
Reason: You may know from my previous rants and birth story that I had a deeply unnatural (supernatural?) birth experience.  AND I LOVED IT.  If I hadn’t had every medical intervention in the book, baby Booberry and I would be D-E-D dead.  And also my genital region would be forever destroyed by her giant, face-up head.  Because of my C-section, I did not get to do disgusting skin to skin with my bloody, gooey baby, though I would have.  I did it as soon as I could back in recovery and I was on SO MANY DRUGS, I only remember a flash (of first-latch pain) of it.  The thing that the crunchiest of crunchies does that makes me bonkers is not the having of the natural birth (DO WHAT YOU WANT), it’s the advocating of the more “natural” ways over trusting your doctor (WHO HAS A DOCTORATE IN YOUR VAGINA AND ITS FUNCTIONS).  It is intensely disrespectful to the doctor and nurses who put in years of training and hours of their lives (many of these hours at night) for you and your health.  I have heard a midwife say that doctors just push for C-sections to get it over and done with so they can be home for dinner.  Uhhhh nope.  My doctor was on call for a solid twenty-four hour stretch the day I was there.  He went home for breakfast seven hours after he surgically removed my baby at midnight after being with me for a full day before that.  I had the same nurse twenty of the twenty-six hours I was in labor.  No one is going home.  No one is rushing anyone.  Ok sorry, ranting again.  END OF RANT (for now).

Go to your baby when she cries.
Crunch level: this granola might be stale or overcooked
Reason: Here’s my hang up with cry it out (CIO for those of you IN A HURRY). My kid doesn’t know why she’s upset.  She just knows she feels sad and alone.  Have you ever been sad and alone in the dark and just wished you felt safe?  Have you ever had an inconsolable sadness?  I can make her sad feelings go away by holding her.  Sure, it would be convenient for me if she just put herself to sleep.  But I can wait.  I read an article that scarred me for life that said that kids’ cortisol levels (stress) are still high after they cry it out (as opposed to when they are held and compared to the mother’s cortisol levels during and after the baby is crying).  Is it true?  I don’t know.  I don’t care.  Yet.  I reserve the right to change my mind and get less crunchy and be hardened (see?  It’s a confusing metaphor) and let the child cry.  Because clearly kids who I know cried it out are fine and at least mostly well adjusted.  This is my crunchiest thing.

Crunch level: soft with a little crispiness
Reason: HERE IS MY BIGGEST SECRET.  For the first week, giant baby Booberry and I were out of sync and I didn’t make enough for her…and I SUPPLEMENTED WITH FORMULA.  Omg.  I am going to parenting hell.  And my kid is going have a lower IQ (because IQ is everything?).  I was full-blown afraid to tell people this.  Not because I was ashamed since my entire purpose as a woman is to give and sustain life (remember how I would have died without modern medicine?  Clearly survival of the fittest isn’t really a thing anymore), but because I was too tired and on drugs to fight the Mommy Battle regarding the use of formula.  So I would vaguely say, “she just ate” instead of “she had a bottle,” so no one would know my shame.  Then, everything worked out and now I am still the super special one who has to wear maxi-pads on my boobs because I am a milk over-achiever and I really do love breastfeeding.  I won’t do it forever, but I’ll keep it up for a while. 

Crunch level: homemade granola bar from a made up recipe
 Reason:  Attachment parents are all for co-sleeping.  At the very least, they say you should sleep with your baby in the same room with you for six months.  I did minimal online research on this and, generally, co-sleeping can be a SIDs risk and I’m too anxious about that kind of thing and also Catdome likes to co-sleep (on our faces) and he gets aggressive if we don’t love him enough.  So, we slept with her in the room with us until…four months.  Why four?  Totally arbitrary.  But I had the sneaking suspicion that sleep talking Doctor, aggressive cuddler Catdome, people getting up to pee in the night, and not wanting to go to bed at 7pm was leading to Boo waking up more than necessary.  So we moved her to her room and I didn’t sleep much that night, constantly wanting to go make sure she was still breathing.  And she totally slept better (until teething started).

Baby led weaning
Crunch level: oatmeal
Reason: This, as I understand it, is that instead of feeding your six-month old watered down baby food from a spoon, you give your baby chunks of actual food and see if they choke and die.  This is supposed to teach the baby…something valuable…

Amber teething necklaces
Crunch level: milk
Reason: NO MEDICAL PROOF.  Parents somewhere got the idea that you can put a pretty amber beaded necklace around your infant’s neck and it will relieve teething pain (through...magic?).  I’m sure babies will just forget that they like to chew on everything and that they only grab at everything with spastic fervor and just leave the tantalizing thing around their necks and not die.  Sarcasm!  I DON’T GET THIS ONE!

Crunch level: married
Reason: Portland had a vote right before we moved here that asked its residents if they wanted their tap water fluoridated.  Wealthy people, hippies, and those who hate dentists with a sociopathic passion voted that they didn’t want their pure, delicious (it is) water being poisoned with chemicals.  As much as I hate flossing, I am married to a dentist and he, despite the fact that lack of fluoridation would give him more patients, is pretty clear on the issue: kids need teeth.  Fluoridate.  He had an awkward argument with our neighbor at a block party when the poor neighbor, with no facts to back up his claim, “respectfully disagreed” that the water should be fluoridated.  Pretty sure we’re not going to get invited to any parties at his house…

Cloth diapering
Crunch level: store bought
Reason: I’m lazy. 

The environment
Crunch level: the box says it’s organic granola so I’ll buy it
Reason: I TRY.  I compost.  I recycle whenever possible.  I use green cleaning products on baby toys.  But, the day we ran out of hand sanitizer at my first teaching job was the day everyone got pink eye.  At another teaching job, I started Lysoling desks after a terrible bout of strep throat.  Sometimes I need me some CHEMICALS.  Also, I reallllllly want a minivan.

Dietary restrictions
Crunch level: Quaker Oat Bars from Target
Reason: I eat meat.  Sometimes I know that it is grass fed…sometimes it’s just the cheapest meat at the store.  I eat eggs.  Sometimes they come from my awesome neighbor and, yes, they taste better than the store-bought ones.  I eat dairy…all of it.  I eat gluten…omg so much gluten.  I eat sugar.  Also agave.  Also honey.  Also syrup.  Also coconut sugar.  All the sugars.  Even the fake sugars but I don’t like those as much.  I do not eat Little Caesars Hot and Ready because that is not food. 

Alternative Medicine
Crunch level: FDA approved
Reason: Ok. So I got acupuncture and it was amazing.  But, seriously, the term “naturopath” is not allowed in my house because it will start the Doctor on a looooonnnng rant or at least a complete lack of respect.  The internet says naturopathy is often lacking in “evidence based medicine.”  That’s about all I need, guys.  Just gimmie some non-anecdotal evidence.    I mean, sure, I rub coconut oil on myself sometimes but it’s because I like smelling like a cookie, not because it will cure ALL my ills. 

Which brings us to the biggie…

Reason: ex-MTV VGs are not medical experts.  Even though I had and really didn’t mind chicken pox as a kid, I did miss spring break because of it, so why do kids need to have chicken pox?  Chicken pox parties are the LEAST of our worries, though.  Here’s the deal, I don’t claim to know things.  I’m agnostic.  I refuse to commit to knowing much of anything for certain.  I can only go off of what I have reasonable proof and/or doubt of.  AND VACCINES ARE NECESSARY.  I don’t believe anyone is trying to hurt their kid (or anyone else’s if we’re gonna get into herd immunity issues), but this is getting ridiculous, Portland.  Get your shit together and do even a LITTLE research on this. 

True story: I totally paused writing this to go get a granola bar because all this talk of crunchiness made me really want one.  It’s gluten free…and I like it.  

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

But What Do You Do All Day?

In honor of the first day of school, I’d like to address the concept of “But what do you do all day?” which is something often asked stay at home moms (SAHMs as the internet refers to them...because WE DON'T HAVE TIME TO SPELL THIS SHIT OUT FOR YOU!).  I am a SAHM almost all the time (I teach one class on Saturdays which has been on summer hiatus).  I miss teaching full time so much but know that a life of never, EVER being alone for ten hours a day is not the life for me at the moment.  I’m super duper thankful to be able to stay home during this time. 

Not being accusatory at all, a friend of mine asked the age-old question, “What do you do all day?”  She wasn’t being malicious or judgmental the way a lot of people are who ask that question of women who “just” stay home.  She was curious.  So…here it is.  WHAT I DO ALL DAY (an amalgamation of a random Tuesday):

6:10: Doctor wakes up for work.  My boobs feel like ROCKS because Her Ladyship Booberry has deigned to sleep nine hours straight because she is the greatest creature that ever lived.  I ask him to check on Boo because she’s taken to sleeping directly on her face and I am worried she has suffocated and died.  He informs me she is still alive and goes to shower.  Either the noise, light, or passage of time wakes up Booberry who flips herself back onto her back and smacks her head on the side of the crib.  So I go in there, change her, and nurse her off Hambone (lefty, the dominant one) which is difficult because of my rock hard boobie and overactive let down.  I fill Boo’s ear with milk as she unlatches and I dissolve into swearing trying to get her back on.  I am thankful she doesn’t know how to repeat words yet.  She eats really fast now and soon I am a lopsided Picasso so I give her a binky and plop her in the crib while I pee (because I haven’t done that for nine hours) and then pump Flippy (the right, less dominant one).

6:45: Join the Doctor for breakfast in the kitchen.  I am winning today because I remembered to make him a lunch and it’s in the fridge (if I don’t make him a lunch, he eats tacos or Little Caesar’s Hot and Ready).  Before you commend me on my domesticity, let me tell you, his lunch consisted of: pizza from Friday night, carrot sticks which were already in the bag, a prepackaged thing of hummus, a yogurt, an apple, and two packs of fruit snacks.  Not exactly gourmet.  Boo happily plays in her exersaucer and laughs uproariously at Ruby who is staring her down from her perch on the counter (she gets ONE section of counter and NO I do not prepare food on that section).

7:10: Doctor leaves for work and I put Boo in the boppy (so far there has been binky, boppy, and exersaucer…the baby CRAP terminology could fill its own lexicon) and sing “Let it Go” (because it is ALWAYS in my head) to her while I put away the laundry I washed three days ago. 

8:00: Boo rubs her eyes so I feed her and put her in the swing (baby depository #4 if you count crib).  I wash pump parts while I wait for her to fall asleep.  Then I come down to the basement and exercise.  JUST KIDDING.  I go on facebook and, in the case of today, blog.  I did do a youtube exercise video two days ago, but I’m still too sore to go back.  Repeatedly and obsessively sneak back upstairs and check on Boo who is totally fine but I’m convinced is going to somehow fall out of the swing (she’s strapped in) and suffocate.

8:30: wipe down Boo’s toys which I haven’t done in several days.  Maybeeee do dishes.  Maaaaaybe fold laundry.  Read mom blogs and Portland parenting facebook articles.  Get dressed (into gym clothes).

9:30: Boo wakes up in the swing giggling and wiggling.  Feed her, change her, dress her, eat a snack (Kind bar chased with a few random chocolate chips), fill water bottle, put crap in car, put on minimal makeup because I look a little diseased, try to put my hair up but it’s too short, while she sits in the vibrating chair in the bathroom (device #5).  Put her in carseat (#6).  Go to car.  Get gas.  Also get coffee at the coffee stand that has Stumptown Cold Brew.  CHUG IT.  Feel awesome. 

10:00: MOM WALK!  I have been lucky enough to meet really nice mom friends who I get along with besides the fact that we have same-age kids.  We walk in the park and talk about our current obsession which lately has been sleep training (new topic from milk over/under supply issues).  Sweat excessively.  Boo naps intermittently.

12:00: Smoothie.  Feel guilty for going out for coffee and also now “lunch” because I have no job and could make both coffee and smoothies at home but I DIDN’T because I’m so, so hot and sweaty and probably badly sun burnt because I forgot sunscreen AGAIN and also I really want to keep socializing with the moms because parenting is a form of loneliness in which you are never alone.  Feed Boo under a nursing cover and drip sweat all over her.  Use nursing cover to wipe sweat. 

1:00: Home.  Shower while Boo sits in the chair and play peekaboo with the shower curtain.  Get dressed (into different gym clothes).  Eat another kind bar and a string cheese while making faces at her as she sits in the bumbo (#7).  Go to the living room and let her roll around on the floor which, in lieu of a rug, is adorned with one and a half (found a half on the street and thoroughly scrubbed it) of those giant foam puzzle pieces.  She starts fussing so we snuggle and I read her Peter Pan for a little while (in a British accent) but she gets bored and sleepy.  Change diaper.

2:30: Boo is fussing and in need of a solid nap so I take her into the basement and turn on Netflix while I nurse her.  She laughs manically at me which is adorable and a sign that she is super tired. 

3:00: She falls asleep in my arms and I let her stay there because it’s kinda my favorite thing in the whole world to hold a sweet, sleeping little Boo and also, if I try to “nap train” her and put her in her crib, she will become wide awake and start playing with her feet for the entirety of nap time.  Also, I kinda want to watch TV…

5:30: Doctor comes home and I have not made dinner or even thought about what I would make for dinner which is fine because he got Little Caesars’ Hot and Ready so he’s good to go so I “accidentally” wake up Boo because I’m starving and my bladder might explode and the Doctor snuggles her and I go up and heat up something that came in a bag from Trader Joes (thank you, world, for Trader Joe’s) and eat the whole thing out of a bowl while we finish whatever Parks and Recreation episode I was watching and then we go play with Boo on the floor mat for a while and I go to the gym (JUST KIDDING…I almost never do) and, if it’s nice, the Doctor straps Boo into the Ergo (#8) and we walk around the block and she falls asleep and then we come home and feed her avocado/breast milk which is hilarious. 

7:00: “Bedtime Routine” starts.  Bath if it’s bath night.  The Doctor does this mostly by himself because I have determined it would be good “bonding” for them.  During bath I lay out pjs and hopefully make Doctor’s lunch and check facebook.  Then pjs and I snuggle her while he reads her a story in our bed.  Then I take her to her room and nurse her in the rocking chair and then try to put her down.

8:30: She won’t let me put her down without waking up fully and crying like I’ve abandoned her and so I know she’s overtired and I have failed yet again to get her to bed before she’s become overtired and curse myself as a parent and then get over it because I WANT TO LIVE MY LIIIIIIFE and then nurse her again even though she doesn’t need it and text the Doctor to tag me out.  He takes her and shushes her while I lie listlessly in bed and go on facebook. 

8:35: She’s sound asleep in her crib doing the Rocky pose on her back because the Doctor is AWESOME (and doesn’t smell like food).  I give the Doctor a short neck rub because that’s the deal if he gets her to sleep successfully and we watch an episode of something and he rubs my feet because he’s cute.

9:30: The Doctor is sound asleep and snoring in his chair and Boo has woken up, turned onto her face, and put herself back to sleep. So I wake up the Doctor and we go to bed but we forgot to feed the cats so he gets up and then I forgot my water so I go get it and then we get into a discussion about how long it will be before everyone is cyborgs and, did he lock the door?  So he goes to check and Boo wakes up an little and I freak out but she’s just mantra crying not really crying and goes back to sleep.  I read a chapter of my library book on sleep training (which defines mantra crying).

10:30: Fall into a dreamless slumber.

4:00: My boobs hurt.  What time is it?  Booberry is still asleep on her face.  Is she dead?  No, probably not. Should I check?  Try not to check.  Go back to sleep. 

6:10: NEW DAY.

No, not every day is the same.  Every day she does something new and I have a different errand or activity.  It was a touch easier when she was a newborn who slept on the go, but she’s so much more fun now.  Would I miss her terribly if I were at work?  Yes.  Do I miss work?  Yes.  Do I want to go back to work?  Hell.  No.  This is fun.  Doesn’t it sound fun?

The part the average, childless person doesn’t see is the parts that make it amazing.  Holding her while she trusts me so immensely and sleeps deeper than she ever does on her own.  That won’t last.  Her deep laugh whenever I make a goofy face at her.  That won’t happen when she’s in school.  Her intense concentration when I show her how to pet Ruby without pulling out clumps of hair (Ruby is a good pet).  There will be a day when she doesn’t want to learn from me.  Singing her a lullaby that my mother would have sung to me were she not so tone deaf as I rock her to sleep at night (and then fail).  That won’t happen in a year.  Seeing her face light up when The Doctor walks in the door.  That look of surprise will fade once object permanence truly sets in. 

I used to leave my house at 6:45 to get to school and I’d get home near 6.  This is the second school year where I haven’t been there on the first day.  Last year I was unemployed and newly preggo.  Every day I’m not a classroom teacher, I try to remind myself to think of all the hours in between and all I did with her.  I try to think of the working parents who are happy to have the time in the world of adults during working hours, and how much they much look forward to the little moments at the end of the day that, on paper, seem so simple and probably boring. 

Sometimes I think of Milo from The Phantom Tollbooth.  When he was at home, he wanted to be at school.  When he was at school, he wanted to be at home.  I think, after a quarter of a century in a school setting, I’m finally ready to let Milo’s attitude go and live in the moment.  (Let it gooooooo, let it gooooo).

Because someday we’ll all be cyborgs anyway…