Saturday, January 30, 2010

Acoustic side of the moon!

Last night, the family and I had a wicked good time going to see Acoustic Side of the Moon at the Kent Stage.  Yes, you read that right- Dark Side of the Moon, done acoustically.  It was amazing, and we had such a great time! 

Dwight and I are both Pink Floyd fans.  I have fond memories of my dad playing it on the giant old stereo when I was a kid, Dwight liked them as a teen, and Ken has been to a few Pink Floyd-synchronized fireworks displays with us.  We were all excited for the music, and I was especially thrilled to share a part of my childhood with Ken.  Luckily, he enjoyed it as much as I had hoped.

But it kind of makes me wonder about how his name affects my perception of him.  Ken's named after my dad, because dad died when I was young and I wanted to honor dad.  It's a decision that has had opposition from some of my family, but one with which I'm usually comfortable.  I'll be the first to admit that I see in Ken plenty of traits that I associate with dad, and this makes me happy.  Am I seeing them because I want to, or are they really there?  Am I taking away some of his ability to build his own identity by putting so many big expectation into such a little body?  How does our interpretation of the past mold the future, and how much does our perception affect reality? 

These aren't questions which I can answer, they just exist and I felt the need to mull them over.  Part of the equation is my recent questioning of my parenting skills, as Ken expresses his own personality ever more so, and increasingly in ways that I don't find appealing.  Did I set myself up for this when Dwight and I gave Ken his name?  Am I over-thinking things because of the abundant patchouli incense at the concert last night, and there's no reason to worry?  Or have I exerted a more than appropriate influence on the shaping of my child in his life?  Ugh, as much of a joy as parenting is, it's that much worry multiplied.  Then again, anything worth doing deserves the effort and thought to do it well.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

When words fail

If you're reading this, you know that while I may be on the fringes of the IF community, I would never presume to know the pain of IF.  I've been blessed to not have suffered that monster for myself, and I realize that that is a *hugs* blessing.  I've witnessed what it can do to relationships, lives, careers, families, and I thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster every day that I have only witnessed it and never participated in this travail.  I cry for those of you that do go that route, and I cheer when one of you wins.  I hate the situations, but I love the beautiful people that have emerged victorious from this battle, and the warrior women (and men) still fighting. 

But what does someone on the outside way when it's over, and the war is won?  I recently found out that someone close to me but whom I only lately started to consider a friend and not the boogey man in the closet (yeah, it's weird) may have won the battle.  After eight years of trying, they should be bringing home a child today.  I say should because today is the last day the birth mother has to rescind, and last I heard the birth mom's mother and sister were being idiots.  I've been on pins and needles all day, and no word.  My stomach is in knots.  I can only imagine how they feel.  So, I can't imagine how they feel, I can only imagine a tiny corner of how they feel.  It's not a good corner.

So I ask, when they come home with baby, what does one say?  "Congratulations" seems so light, not really worthy of the accomplishment.  This is a couple that went through it all essentially alone.  With my surrogacy, they were aloof, distant and neutral.  Never a for a moment would I have guessed they were in this hell.  What on Earth do you say?  "I'm sorry that you went through that"?  "I'm sorry that I didn't know"?  "I'm sorry that I helped others, but it never even occurred to me that you might need help too"?

My heart hurts for them, and it hurts worse knowing that they did it alone.  What I do, is help people, and I couldn't help them.  And I'm going to keep aching until I hear for sure that they are the proud new parents of a beautiful baby who is safe at home and doing wonderfully.  And they're so exhausted they can't see farther than the perfect smile of a newborn.  Wish them luck, please!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Somehow, they never turn out the way you envision.  Expectations are funny like that.  If you set the bar low, you'll surely be pleasantly surprised; expect a lot and you get let down.  It's not rocket science, but life still throws me curve balls on occasion.  Really, I think the lesson is to just stop trying to expect anything and allow life to happen as it will, without preconceptions.  Which all sounds great in writing but seems very hard to do in reality.  And has also gotten me in trouble, with accusations of being callous.  Gah.

I recently made the mistake of forgetting everything I wrote above, and set my expectations too high.  I was swiftly reminded that the world does not care what expectations little old me might have of life, and that humility is a positive trait.  Whoops a' daisy.  Hopefully I'll remember that lesson for a bit longer this time, so my pride had a bit of time to heal. 

OK, admittedly it's happened twice lately, but the one instance I didn't feel any unreasonable expectations were being laid out.  Just show up on time for the class that you're supposed to teach, and I'll be happy.  Meh, whoever thought that that would be an unrealistically high expectation for some people?  Oh well.  Once again I learned. 

Don't make expectations, and you won't be disappointed.  Or at least not as much as you would have been if you had made those expectations.  Now I have to go bang my head against the wall a bit and scream about why can't things just work the way they're supposed to.  Good evening, all!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Trust Women- Blog for choice

This is NARAL Pro-Choice's national blog for choice day, and the theme this year is "Trust Women".  The phrase is in honor of Dr. Tiller after his murder last year.  Dr. Tiller was an abortion provider, and vocally pro-choice, and was noted often for wearing a button with this simple concept emblazoned upon it.  It's two little words, but such a huge sentiment.  What does Trust Women mean?

For one, Trust Women is obviously pro-choice.  It says to respect women's physical autonomy in the same way that we respect men's physical autonomy.  There is no medical procedure for men that is equivalent in its regulation or controversial nature to abortion.  There are no regulations nor discussion of new regulation of which I know that restrict a medical decision made by a mentally competent male of the age of majority.  And yet we have frequent discussions and multiple regulations concerning medical decisions made by women. 

Secondly, it's not just about abortion.  In the past few year's especially, there have been attacks on women's physical autonomy concerning birth control and emergency contraception.  Most notably, there was the movement for "conscience" by pharmacists which would allow pharmacists who do not approve of the use of oral contraceptives to deny the filling of those prescriptions.  Oral contraception is not only used for birth control- it's also used to treat dermatological conditions of severe acne, and keep some bleeding disorders in check by controlling the frequency and duration of menstruation.  Legitimate medical concerns for which pharmacists can deny treatment that has been prescribed by a physician.  Again, there is no male equivalent.

Finally, Trust Women is a declaration of the distance that we still have to cross in basic women's rights.  We have undoubtedly come a huge way in the past half-century.  But the paternalistic idea that women can not make basic medical decisions about their own body and lives shows that we still live in a society where women are viewed as second class citizens that must be protected from their own devices, similarly to children.  This, in my opinion, is the ultimate meaning of Trust Women, and possibly the most disturbing.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Long Winter's Nap

Or, in the case of Ken, no winter's nap.  Tomorrow he starts back to pre-school.  Finally.  You are reading the words of a *very* happy mama.

I love the boy, really I do, but he has my ability to sleep and Dwight's need for sleep.  That translates into a very sleepy little boy that won't admit what he is.  Have I talked about this before?  It's on ongoing theme in our household, so I apologize if it's a re-run here.  Anyway, his last day of pre-school before the holidays was December 19th.  To my knowledge, his last nap was on December 19th.  Can you say "terror"?  It'll be good to get back into some semblance of a routine.

Physiologically, organisms need to rest, whether they're a four year old Homo sapien or a perennial grass.  For most things, there's a period of dormancy, slowed growth, lower metabolic activity, etc.  Usually it's associated with the cold or dry season, depending on its native range and climate.  Psychologically, humans need regular rest/relaxation/sleep.  As a biologist with an extraneous psychology degree and a mama, I know all this.  But knowing something doesn't necessarily translate well into following that same knowledge.  No one ever said humans were rational.  Given the standard 24-hour day, I can manage to fill said day with 30 hours worth of things that I need/want to do.  And then wonder why I don't get it all done.  Oops. 

Part of me likes it like this.  I enjoy being busy.  Life's too short to waste time doing nothing.  I'm able to stay active in my community even with my regular obligations.  My life is filled with interesting moments and tasks.  But every so often, it gets a bit too busy, even for me.  I'm sure you've done this too, I'm pretty sure it's a common thread among western society.  When those moments come along, it's really hard to slow down for a couple of reasons.  One, the inertia of life just keeps pulling me along.  I'm used to a certain activity level, and slower than that seems boring.  Two, all those obligations make it logistically difficult to slack off.  People are expecting me to get done what I've said I'd do, and I don't like to let them down.  It's a dance between staying busy and active, and still having time to rest.  A dance that in my nearly 29 years I have yet to master.  And probably won't any time soon.

Because the fact of the matter is, my dad had a lot of the same tendencies, and he died at the age of 42.  The rational thing to do would be to try and avoid some of his more destructive habits, as they may have contributed to his early demise.  But the irrational and human thing to do (or at least what I've found myself doing) is not to learn how to avoid early death but to to live as though it's a certainty and still try to get in a full life's work before that happens.  We all have our quirks, right?

On a lighter note- I need ideas for a birthday cake.  What can you suggest?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Because I haven't in a while

I think there should be just about something for everyone here.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Plane at Four

I'm blogging on the road, having left the house at some now distant ungodly hour Tuesday morning to leave on a jet plane for Sarasota, Florida.  With plenty of fresh powder on the ground.  Less than two weeks after the botched terrorist attempt by a man from Nigeria.  With a four year old.  In a plane filled with 100-watt perfume users.  To arrive in Florida at one of the coldest cold snaps in a while.  Oh my, what fun in store!

This left me with the conundrum of what to write.  Do I cover the society/ethics questions raised by the logistical aspects of our flight, or the more philosophical pondering of parenthood on the road?  For this one, I'm picking the parenting plot, because I need my blood pressure to come down a bit before I write on privacy and security.  As a clarification before this thought train leaves the depot, when I refer to parent, I mean any person who cares for a child in the place of a parent, be there a biological connection or not.  Adoptive parents, parents via surrogacy, step parents living with children, foster parents, family members raising children- you're all equal in my eyes in that you have all chosen to take on the task of caring for a child twenty-four hours out of every day, for an extended period of time.  It is this day-to-day care and supervision that makes a child, not a biological connection.  I'll leave dealing with the biological connection for another time.

One of the things I love and hate about parenting is the learning opportunities it affords Dwight and I.  Admittedly, I love the chance to broaden my knowledge, I hate the constant questions that prompt this learning.  Ken is very inquisitive, as are most four year old kids.  That's great, and I wish more adults had this characteristic still residing within them.  He's also very intelligent (I may be biased, but I've also been told this by many non-biased sources, so I feel safe in repeating the delusion here)- but not able to read yet.  There goes the ready answer of "why don't you go to the library and find out" that I remember my father firing off to questions which he found uninteresting and for which he didn't have a good answer.  We'll get there eventually, and I'm confident that this response for Ken will foster a similar love of the library that it fostered in me (enough to encourage me to volunteer at our local library from a young age, and then work at the library for my first job, by the way).

For now, however, this lack of literacy means that I get to be the one to find the answers to Ken's questions and relay them to him in a language he can understand.  And repeat the process ad nauseum for each of the million questions that arise from the first answer.  Really, I've learned about some great topics from culinary history to engineering thanks to this practice, but I've also lost countless hours of work/sleep/play time, brain cells, and much of my sanity in the process as well. 

This isn't the only task that I had never thought that I'd have to take on as a mother.  In fact, I will be the first to admit that there was much in my life now that I hadn't envisioned as part and parcel with parenting, and I have no doubt that more roles will pop up as we age as a family.  I've had to become an advocate for my child with extended family and non-family that don't share Dwight and my ideologies and philosophies.  I'm an interpreter between my child and others who don't quite speak Kennish.  I'm social planner, organizer, family historian, photographer, document keeper, therapist, taxi, macaroni and cheese gourmand, negotiator, movie/music/TV/radio screener, and occasional wrestler and safety net.  And that's in a good week. 

Maybe I was just hideously unprepared beforehand, although I like to think not. I read the books.  I went to parenting classes.  I took developmental psychology, albeit for my psychology BS, not in direct preparation for parenting.  There was even a time in which I thought I would condemn myself to early childhood education, so I had a few education classes as well. 

My point in all this is two-fold.  First, there's no such thing as "prepared" to be a parent, it doesn't happen.  One can be more or less prepared, but like the loss of a parent, gaining a child is not something you can ever be truly prepared for.  This fact, added to the statistic that currently half of US pregnancies are unplanned, and parenthood as one of the most important roles a person can take on, scares the bejeezus out of me.  It also reminds me that I should have stuck with psychology for my career, because the need for trained therapists is very clear. 

Secondly, to all the people out there who have not yet had the task of raising the next generation, please try to be a little more understanding of children and parents.  Everyone who is now a parent has at one time been not a parent; we understand the draw to remain childless, and on some days really, really wish we could go back to those days.  I appreciate the opinion of those who choose not to have children, and applaud your ability to recognize your own limitations and priorities.  I'm not saying that the world should stop for children, but you were a child once as well, and children are most definitely human, so please don't act as though they are worse than plaque infested rats.  Yes, they can be an annoyance; yes, they can be vaguely disgusting; yes, they can be rude, but you don't need to ostracize parents or act as though the world is ending because there's a tantrum going on across the room.  If the parents are trying to handle it, then let them, don't add to their stress.  We all deserve a little compassion in this life, and the next generation deserves the opportunity to learn and grow, just as you were given once.  If nothing else, consider yourself helping the future by modeling patience and compassion instead of distaste and condemnation.  Is that acceptable?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

As Promised- cake pictures

Laugh, me hardies, laugh.  This is what a four year old and I create.  It's our version of "The USS Enterprise follows Dr. Who into the Mutara Nebula".  Yes, this was what Ken wanted for his fourth birthday cake, without prompting.  Gads, are Dwight and I raising a nerd or what?

And yes, the first is out of focus horribly.  My eyes are in need of a trip to the optometrist and my current favorite lens is pre-auto-focus.   Damn it.  I'm not even thirty yet.

Lessons of the Snow

An excursion for Ken and I out and about on New Year's Eve made me think about snow. It's northeast Ohio- we get plenty of it. Usually, it's dealt with, enjoyed for a couple days, and we're sick of it in short order. Even in this college town, where I see plenty of people walking and no many people without a car or with one car in a family, just ignoring the snow is a viable option for many businesses and individuals. That makes trying to walk instead of drive pretty dang difficult. But we managed to get where we were going and back without major incident and even enjoyed ourselves in the process. So I thought I'd share a few of these thoughts here.

Proper preparation prevents poor performance. Sure, this is a lesson that can be learned many places, but it seemed especially true this time. Skimping time on the bundling would have made our journey much worse.

Lead by example, not by the hand. Taking someone by the hand and guiding them may get you someplace more quickly, but if one of you stumbles, you both end up in the drift, and considerably less learning goes on.

Even a small child can topple a giant if the giant is on an unstable foundation. At this time of change and uncertainty, this one strikes me as especially relevant. On a related note- always be sure of your footing, the extra time to be sure saves quite a bit of soreness.

Sometimes the path of least resistance may take you a longer distance, but you get to the same point in the same amount of time anyway.

If you're looking, beauty can be found anywhere, although all beauty eventually fades and beauty can hide very treacherous conditions.

Laughter does wonders for warming the heart and making a journey seem shorter, and a companion has the same effect, so if you want to make a trip quick go with a smile and a friend.