Posts Filed Under Sometimes, I’m all deep and shit…..

a boy is a boy or a girl, who is a girl or maybe a boy. or neither or both.

by renegademama

So we’re at the checkout line in the Goodwill this weekend and I’m chatting with a couple people behind me – somehow we get on the topic of girl versus boy children (oh right, they told me they raised 4 boys and I said “I think I’d shoot myself” and they said “we considered it” and then we laughed.). Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my little man, but he drives me around the bend sometimes.  So we chatted about the differences between boys and girls, the way a girl at five seems so oddly capable of just doing a task (even a complicated one, like putting socks on without first throwing them across the room a few times, or sitting in a chair without tipping it backwards or otherwise flailing around). The lady behind the counter agreed, having mothered 5 boys. Then this blonde woman behind us, who we didn’t exactly invite into our little discussion I might add, gets all condescending and pipes up “You know, I don’t think it’s a boy/girl thing. It’s just a person thing. It’s just an individual personality difference – it has nothing to do with being male or female. I raised a boy who is so sensitive and gentle. It’s just a human difference.”

She’s impressed with herself.

I’m less impressed, and I feel like saying “Look, bitch, don’t play the gender equality social justice card with me. I’ve read more Judith Butler and bell hooks and studied more queer and feminist theory than your sorry ass could fathom, so if you really want to throw down some identity politics right here in the Goodwill check-out line, I’m in, you out-of-touch wannabe intellectual shit-head. Otherwise, shut the hell up and let me and the toothless worker lady banter in peace.”

But I kept that inside.

For the good of all mankind, I’m perfecting that skill.

Just to clarify, I haven’t read that much queer or feminist theory. But I’ve read enough to intellectually bitch-slap somebody dumb enough to think the Goodwill store is a good time to question gender construction. Plus, when people treat me like an empty vessel into which they shall altruistically pour their enlightened parenting skills, I get defensive and self-righteous with an overwhelming urge to retaliate irrationally. (That’s what happens when you’re mature and well-adjusted.)

But really the bottom line is this: theory is theory and real life is real life. I want to believe that there is no difference between male and female, that my son and daughter function in exactly the same way with the same instinct, mental approach, etc. But when you have a son suddenly chewing his pretzels into the shape of a gun, you begin to wonder. I mean I can’t blatantly deny what’s in front of me. That would be wrong. There are 12-step groups for that kind of behavior.

Of course I agree that there are no across-the-board, unwavering gender identities inherent in either sex, nor do I believe that there is a “right” way to be a “man” or a “woman.” Rocket went through a phase where he loved to wear Ava’s princess dresses – he’d parade around proudly in pink ruffles, a hard hat and cowboy boots. Loved it. And I took the same women’s studies class that Captain Justice took, you know, the one where the professor explains that gender roles are social constructs of the male hierarchy with no basis in reality and there’s no such thing as mother’s intuition (that one kinda hurt my feelings) and there are no inherent differences between the sexes. And I believed that for a long time. But then I got married (um, different blog post) and I had kids. And I’m not sure I believe that anymore.

Because in my experience, there is a HUGE STARTLING difference between Ava and Rocket, even though I tried to give them gender neutral toys and raise them the same way. And while it could be just personality differences, my experience seems to be shared with lots of other parents, who have experienced similar phenomena in their families. I do however have a huge problem with the idea of excusing rude or thoughtless or physically rough behavior because “boys will be boys” or overly dramatic, silly behavior because “girls will be girls.” Lame. Not cool. Period.

Anyway, I’m sure there are exceptions – boys who don’t place their penises in funnels or collapse on the floor in hysterics when the dog passes gas. I’m sure there’s one who has more than a 12-second attention span when it comes to tasks he’s not interested in. And I’m sure there are girls who aren’t generally organized, “on task” or helpful with siblings. I just don’t have one of those kids, and there appear to be lots of other mothers who don’t have one either, and it’s fun to chat about it.

It’s fun to be human with other humans, to commiserate and laugh for a moment even if it isn’t politically correct or right or progressive. Sometimes I just want to be real, with other real people. I don’t want to be enlightened or deep. I just want to laugh about my life, exactly as it is. Right or wrong. Maybe I am furthering the male hegemony. Maybe I am dead wrong and holding onto archaic 1950s ideas. But I’ll tell you one thing I don’t doubt, and that is that the toothless lady behind the Goodwill counter, making 8 bucks an hour trying to support her grandkids, probably isn’t too interested in engaging in theoretical discourse surrounding the nature of gender identity. She, like me, probably just enjoyed a good laugh.

 

Word.

 

17 Comments | Posted in Sometimes, I'm all deep and shit..... | February 21, 2011

Georgia’s home birth story

by renegademama

I’ve been meaning to finish this.

On August 4, 2010 I was four days past my due date and not digging it. I seemed to go into labor and then stop, every day for about two years. Or maybe that was weeks. I was done in a way only a 40+ week pregnant woman can be “done.” I met with my midwife and explained that my daily visualization techniques and heart-to-heart talks with my uterus were oddly ineffective and she was going to have to do something. She suggested castor oil, told me it would only work if my body is fully ready (so I shouldn’t get excited), and gave me a milkshake recipe I can’t wholeheartedly recommend.

It took me about 37 seconds to get the ingredients, send the kids to my mom’s, and drink the milkshake (actually it was 6pm). By 9pm I was feeling contractions but tried to ignore them since they had faded out so many times before. By midnight they were still coming and I was having to walk around through them and breathe to manage the pain. I figured if I woke Mac up I’d jinx the whole deal, so I let him sleep until about 2am, when they were becoming pretty difficult to manage. He woke up and started filling the birthing tub and setting up various other things (heating receiving blankets, putting things out for the midwives, calling grandmothers, etc.). He was nervous and kept suggesting we call the midwives. I kept telling him “no” because I was still in denial that our baby was coming. My mom arrived around 4am. I got in the tub about 5am because the pain was really intense. About 3 minutes later I declared that the midwives could come, and they showed up about 5:45am. I labored in the tub and around the house, moaning and sighing through contractions, leaning on Mac, wondering in lucid moments why the hell I ever signed up for this again. At around 7:30am the contractions slowed way down (a sign I was moving to the pushing stage) and I started feeling the urge to push at the peak of each contraction.

This is when things really began to suck.

Now you must understand that with Ava and Rocket I pushed for about 15 minutes each. It was quick and easy (if such an ordeal could ever be “easy”). With this baby, though, I was pushing with all my might and nothing was happening. Just excruciating pain. Really, nothing was happening and I knew it. I kept trying but my attempts seemed ineffective and all the strength I could muster seemed wimpy in the face of what I was trying to do. I was genuinely terrified. This was not in the cards. I’m a super birthing machine. I really felt that I couldn’t do it and I shared this information with the midwife. She calmly informed me that I was the only one who could do it. I wanted to hit her in the face. The other midwife started mumbling something about breathing in light and love to my baby and I considered drowning her.

There are absolutely no words to describe the feeling of the two hours I spent trying to push that baby out. I just couldn’t do it. And yet I had to and I was trying so hard but it wasn’t enough but it had to be enough. But if the needed strength just isn’t there, what is one supposed to do? I can’t just make it materialize out of nowhere. The pain was so great I just wanted it to end but I could not make it end. I begged for relief. There was none.

Let’s take a little break so you can fully appreciate the humor in this little ordeal. You may have noticed that little word “home” in the title…yes, this was a planned home birth.  I had my other two kids in a hospital, with midwives, without drugs. My son was a water birth (I’ll tell that story some other time). I’ve had no traumatic hospital experiences…so why would I choose such a thing? Well, there are a lot of reasons, but mine are simple: I like to give birth without pain medication and without  intervention (if possible), and the easiest simplest way to do this is at home. But oh lord did I have some plans involving this birth. I had a vision. I’d been reading a lot of Ina May Gaskin (Spiritual Midwifery) and other hippie natural birth books – and Rocket’s birth was exactly like what they were talking about: calm, serene, painful but not excruciating, textbook progression – culminating in the quick birth of an 8 1/2 pound perfect, pink baby boy with an Apgar of 10. I figured that since I was at home, this birth would be even better, more intuitive, more beautiful and glorious. I saw myself cruising around with some angelic smile on my face, swaying softly to the music in my mind, the ancient rhythm of a thousand birthing women, my body whispering what to do and me like a graceful swan, dancing my baby out, as my older kids and husband watched peacefully, glancing at each other with little grins of happy, fascinated anticipation. It was all going to be very spiritual.

And it was, if growling and screaming the word “fuck” repeatedly and acting like a hyena on crack is spiritual.

Okay so anyway there I was, pushing and acting like a psycho with NO SUCCESS and I’m absolutely freaking out. Fits of yelling, fits of tears. Terror in my eyes. Veins popping out. I’m unhappy. My kids were absolutely horrified. Not my first priority. After two hours of this hell, I hit a wall. I realized that the only way out of this horrid situation was to do the one thing I was the most scared of. The one thing I couldn’t do. The midwife was right. I had to do it. So with the next contraction I got angry. I simply got insane. I roared and screamed and pushed with all the strength I had and all the strength I’ve never had and will never have. And I didn’t stop. I thought my body was tearing in half. But the midwife said she could see dark hair, then the forehead, ears, the head…and I became encouraged and kept working, really hard. A few moments later I felt the greatest relief of my life and I heard the midwives tell Mac “pick up your baby.” He had to find her in the cloudy water. A second later he lifted up the most beautiful little baby I’d ever seen. I was overcome with joy. My tears were of ecstasy. The cord was around her neck twice and she was blue, so they quickly rolled her over a couple times and we watched the miracle of her body flooding pink — from her chest out to her tiny fingers and toes. It was 9:28 in the morning .

Somebody asked me if it was a girl or boy — I looked and said with a smile “a girl, of course” (since I always new she was a girl, even without an ultrasound). I spent so many months trying to imagine her face, and I couldn’t see it, but the moment I laid eyes on her, I knew her perfectly. “Oh right, there you are.” I was in heaven. Elated.

everybody examining the baby - notice the swollen head...that's cause she came out all FUNKY

Turns out the baby was in a position that makes a natural delivery extremely difficult – essentially the wrong part of her head was presenting. The midwives explained that most women with a baby in that position end up with a Cesarean delivery, and that doctors would have told me it was “impossible” to vaginally deliver a baby in that position. Useful information AFTER THE FACT, huh? Plus she was ten pounds. Whoa. The midwives seemed genuinely impressed and I must admit I felt like something of a bad-ass. I suppose the battle of it ultimately made it the most “spiritual” of all my births – realizing that my body was failing me, being forced to pull from deep inside my soul, deeper than I had ever gone, to find a power I never knew I had. Doesn’t get much more spiritual than that. (well, in my opinion).

9 lbs, 14 ounces, 21 inches long

So our baby girl was born and she was lovely and we all crawled into our bed and cuddled. And I had my perfect home birth. They examined and weighed her right in my room.  We sang happy birthday to her,  dressed her after a few hours, spent hours examining and kissing her perfect little self. In fact we’ve been doing just that ever since.

happy birthday little one

Sweet baby Georgia, welcome.

29 Comments | Posted in Sometimes, I'm all deep and shit..... | February 13, 2011

a poem for a sunday

by renegademama

Today I was thinking about Rocket’s birth for some reason, so I thought I’d share this poem, which I wrote a few years ago. (I tend to get a little deep & reflective on Sundays, probably a result of exhaustion from the previous week, or the morbid realization that a new one’s coming).

Found

turn around,

she said.

pick up your son.

I turned.

your palms faced out

nudging the water

you swam with open eyes –

for a moment still

tethered to me safely.

brave little fish.

my water to this water,

beautifully.

up from my center you rose

and I

dove

in crazy mama love

to you.

inhaled your breath, became nothing

as my blood ran still, turned your fingers pink.

3 Comments | Posted in Sometimes, I'm all deep and shit..... | January 30, 2011

playdate in my trailer

by renegademama

I don’t live in a trailer. Or even a trailer park. I just like the idea of a playdate in a trailer. The image pretty much sums up my experience of motherhood. Just a little off, all the time.

The first time I picked up ““What to Expect When You’re Expecting” I knew I was seriously screwed.

Allow me to elaborate:

When I found out I was pregnant with my first child I wanted to kill myself and the man who got me knocked up (who I had known for 3 months and is, incidentally, still my husband). I kept the baby because he threatened to leave me if I didn’t and I loved him, and in my gut it seemed like the right thing to do. I looked at having a baby as a sort of event, a passing occurrence, like going to Mexico or getting your teeth cleaned. When the permanence of it hit me- when my belly started growing – I was furious. My body became somebody else’s. My sexiness faded like the jeans I used to fit. I felt robbed. Conned. Tied down. It was a sort of death I cannot explain. My youth passed in an instant, my freedom expired, my free-wheeling, hot & young days ended – abruptly, at 21, many years before I was ready. I swung between moments of compliance with my new identity and vengeful, furious rejection of it.

This is how I entered motherhood. And the manual I encountered was “What to Expect.” Where was the chapter on “suicidal tendencies upon viewing positive pregnancy test?” Or: “how to remain 21 and hot while mothering.”

Lord have mercy.

Sadly I didn’t become June Cleaver the moment I laid eyes on my precious baby girl. Instead, I spent a few years making huge, tragic parenting errors, which is another story and another blog. In short, I’ve been “that mother.” I’ve been drunk, absent, uninterested, impatient, narcissistically self-centered and obscenely immature. I’ve wished I’d never become a mother. I’ve pretended I could just ignore my kids and they’d go away. In fact, I tried that once (didn’t work). I’ve done all these things and now I’m finally on my way home, but I still wonder: “Where do the bad mothers go?”

What about those of us who love our children as much as the well-adjusted knowledgeable stable enlightened types but just can’t seem to get it right? What about those of us who just aren’t cut out for this shit but are doing it anyway?

I am proof that not every woman enters motherhood in some gentle, planned, ribbon-and-ruffles way. Not every woman likes this crap. Not every woman fits neatly into the mold created and reinforced by mainstream books like “What to Expect.” Not everybody is a good mother, all the time. In fact some of us are bad mothers most of the time.

I usually look around the child-rearing world and see a bunch of crap I don’t need, hear a bunch of advice I can’t use – encounter a bunch of people I only partially understand. I go home and I see a thrashed house with kids everywhere and overgrown lawns, dirty cloth diapers and books I want to read but don’t and toys and dishes and sometimes I demand that my kids just sit down be quiet and watch Netflix because I can’t stand one more moment of noise or movement. And if one more person says “Mama” I am going to take a bat to the windows.

And a few hours later I walk into her room after she’s gone to sleep and I see my first born baby, nine years old. I stroke her frizzy unkept hair and listen to her soft snores. I touch her cheek and my eyes burn in palpable adoration. I feel it surge up my body from my toes into my fingers – thick, fierce infinite expanding mama love. And I beg the universe in that moment to give her everything she will ever need and please God keep her safe and how is it that I am so lucky to have this child, right here. The one who robbed me of my great ass and flat belly and turned me into the mother I wasn’t ready to become.

I lie down exhausted and think of all the ways I could be a better mom. Of the days I’ve missed through my own selfishness. Of the years racing by, teasing me with the illusion that this will never end, that they’ll always be little. And I wish I didn’t yell so much.

And so it goes on like this. Back and forth. All the time. Here’s to the trip.

Someday I shall write my own version entitled: “What to Expect When You’re [a jackass and] Expecting.” Until then, I’ll write this blog.

25 Comments | Posted in Sometimes, I'm all deep and shit..... | January 26, 2011