Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Phenomenal Woman

I was saddened this morning to read of the death of Maya Angelou.  I count her autobiographical novel I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings among the books that has most deeply affected me (and I've read many, many books in my lifetime), and I have been so moved by many things she has said and written.

Rest in peace, Dr. Angelou.  Thank you for the gifts you bestowed upon us all during your 86 years on this earth.

This poem of hers has always been one of my favorites:

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size   
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,   
The stride of my step,   
The curl of my lips.   
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,   
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,   
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.   
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.   
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,   
And the flash of my teeth,   
The swing in my waist,   
And the joy in my feet.   
I’m a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered   
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,   
They say they still can’t see.   
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,   
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.   
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.   
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,   
The bend of my hair,   
the palm of my hand,   
The need for my care.   
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

(I found this text here.)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

What happened to PAIL Bloggers?

I guess I am behind. . . I tried to visit today (via the link on my blogroll) for the first time in months, and I got a message that the domain name expired last Friday.

Is PAIL not a thing anymore?  Come to think of it, I don't think I've gotten a monthly email from PAIL in a while. . .

I'm often out of the loop on things.  I hope PAIL hasn't quit.  I used to enjoy the monthly theme posts and would occasionally visit the blogroll to find other bloggers with kids close in age to mine.

Anyone know what's going on with that and can bring me up to speed?

Monday, May 19, 2014

The drudgery of adulthood


As much as I love my sons and enjoy spending time with them, I have, in some ways, at some times, felt that a lot of parenthood is drudgery.  As much as I would love to simply enjoy them, there is a lot more to being a parent than just that.  There is also laundry, meal preparation, cleaning, grocery shopping, diaper changes and the like.  Not all fun.

Because I am away from my sons for many of their waking hours during the weekdays, many days I feel that I am getting less of the enjoyment part of parenthood and more of the unenjoyable parts.  (Let's not even talk about toddler discipline/behavior.  Let's leave that topic for another day.)

I had a small "aha moment" on Saturday as I was washing dishes.  Pre-children, I rarely did housework.  Yep, I've now admitted it publicly. . . for many years, I did the bare minimum of housework on a daily basis to keep my home livable.  I ate out a lot, so I didn't have to wash dishes every day; I probably ran the dishwasher two or three times a week before my sons were born vs. daily now.  

I didn't make my bed unless I'd just put on fresh sheets.  I didn't straighten up every day.  (Much to MM's chagrin once we were married.)  I usually let things slide until the weekend, when things would finally deteriorate to a point where it would bug me and I would then have a block of time available and pick up.

Ditto for the bigger cleaning jobs, like the floors, the bathrooms, the kitchen, dusting, etc.  I did my best to keep things from getting very dirty during the week and would then tackle them on the weekends.  (And maybe not even every weekend, if I'm being really truthful here.)

Now that I have small children living in my home, I not only have a higher standard for cleanliness in my home, I also have two more people to clean up after besides myself.  (Thank the Lord my husband is a neatnik who cleans up after himself).  Two much messier people, I might add.  Two people who think nothing of throwing food and drink on the floor, smashing crackers into the couch, dumping out all their (carefully organized) toy bins, emptying their toy box or taking every single book off their shelves.  Two people who actually think it's FUN to make a mess, I believe, at least based on their behavior.

So I am doing a lot more housework nowadays than I ever did pre-children.  Even though I have a helpful husband, a four-day-a-week nanny with her own neatness streak and a cleaning lady who comes in once a month.  

I also do a lot more grocery shopping and meal planning than ever before because pre-children I ate out a lot or ate frozen entrees (unless I was on a weight loss kick, but those only happened sporadically).  My children can't eat Lean Cuisines or food from the McDonald's or Taco Bell drive-thrus (well, technically I suppose they *could*, but I'm quite a bit more careful about what I feed them than I am about what I feed myself), so I have to go the grocery store once or twice a week to ensure that they have milk, bread, eggs, cheese, fresh fruits and vegetables and other things to eat.

For most people, these tasks are probably the normal tasks of adulthood, but for me, they feel inextricably linked to parenthood, since I never really did them before.  I guess I should consider myself fortunate; I had a pretty good run in getting to nearly age 41 without incorporating these domestic duties into my daily/weekly round.

If/when I win the lottery, a cook/housekeeper is at the top of my wish list.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The discomfort of change

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” 
― Rumi

“If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?” 
― Rumi

Every so often, I go through a period where I feel the need to make some changes in myself or in my life.  As I have mentioned in recent posts, I am very happy with my current life.  I am very fortunate to (pretty much) have the life I want.

[Why the "pretty much" qualifier?  Well, like most working mothers, I would love to have more hours in the day, more sleep and a little more money.  But other than those things. . . yes, the life I want.]

So it's not my life that I want to change currently but myself.  I want to be a more patient parent.  (Achieving this goal is my current project and the one to which I am devoting my primary focus and the most energy and effort.)  I need to become healthier (better eating, more regular and consistent exercise).  I would like to be more organized at home and get rid of some clutter.

As I have settled in at my new job, I am feeling as though I have more psychic energy (if not physical energy; I am tired all.the.time) to devote to these goals.  I am also feeling that familiar restless discomfort that has always preceded my actually making progress toward achieving anything significant.

Now where to begin. . . .

Friday, May 9, 2014

Beauty in an unexpected place

I read The Honest Toddler for the humor.  (Do you read HT?  If you don't, you should.  If you're a parent of a toddler--or two--it's hilarious, and I think it would be funny even for those without children.)  So when I followed a link to that site this morning, I wasn't expecting to find this poem.

My family likes to joke that I am "dead inside" (long, old story) because I am rational and unemotional.  But this made me cry.

Enjoy! And Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

No Baby Fever Here

I met Jay's baby last night, and she's a cute little peanut.  I got to hold her for a long time, and she seemed to like me.  Little babies have always been partial to me since I was a teenager.

As I was leaving the hospital, I called MM to let him know I was on my way home.  He, naturally enough, asked about my visit, how Jay was doing, what I thought of the baby and the like.  When I related the above, he asked if it made me want another baby.  And I responded--just a little too quickly, apparently--"no."  MM's response was "Wow, *that* was pretty adamant."

Why, yes.  Yes, it was.

That brief exchange gave me cause for reflection.  How is that, in just a few short years, I have gone from wanting a baby so much that I was willing to go to great lengths to have one, to now being adamantly opposed to having another?  It's true that the biggest thing that has changed is that I now already have two children of my own.  I am definitely not in the same place today I was in three years ago when, coincidentally, I had my SHG and was given the go-ahead to start my DE IVF cycle.

But more than simply being no longer willing to go great lengths to have another child, I frankly find the idea of going through another pregnancy more than a little horrifying.  The months and months of feeling miserable.  Of worrying about what might go wrong, for me and for the baby.  The possibility of life-threatening complications at the end.  The (to me) seemingly impossible task of integrating one more little dependent person into my already-fuller-than-full daily round.

I saw a post on a forum I visit the other day from another twin mother who had also delivered pre-term due to preeclampsia but who is now pregnant again with a singleton.  She optimistically talked about how her high risk OB had assured her that her odds of developing preeclampsia again were probably only around 30% this time around.  Her twins are around the same age as our sons (just a little younger, if memory serves).

And when I read that post, I wondered why that risk seemed acceptable to her, even positive, when to me, it would have seemed like a good reason to stop at two children.  In a sense, her view is the more rational one: there is a better than two out of three chance that everything will be fine for her.

In thinking back on what I went through at the end of my pregnancy, with the preeclampsia and the post-delivery hemorrhage, I have long thought that I was not greatly emotionally affected by that experience.  I certainly don't remember feeling particularly scared at the time or thinking that I might die or be permanently disabled (although realistically, either outcome was a possibility).  My primary emotions were concern for my sons' well-being and guilt/shame at feeling I had somehow caused the challenges they might face.

But it is an indisputable fact that that little tug that I used to feel when I would hold someone's newborn. . . that visceral, maternal urge that spurred me forward in my quest for parenthood for so many years. . . is absolutely, positively gone now.  While I can hold and look at newborns and appreciate their beauty and innocence, they inspire zero longing in me.

So perhaps I was more affected by my experiences of pregnancy and delivery than I realized at the time.  Or maybe I just know that I have reached (and exceeded?) my personal limit for parenting.

Who knows?

I will say this: in a perverse way, it is nice to know that I am indisputably, unquestionably, no ifs-ands-or-buts done with pregnancy and childbirth.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Congratulations, Jay!

I am so happy today for my friend Jay, who welcomed her second baby girl last night.  Jay blogs at Stuck in a Baby Drought.  We originally met through our blogs and have become friends in real life.

It seems like just the other day that the two of us were meeting for lunch to discussing our infertility woes.  I can remember one particularly long lunch when I discussed my plans to go for a DE IVF consult, and Jay later ended up doing a DE IVF cycle at the same clinic a few months later.  Now my sons and her daughter meet up regularly for play dates, and our conversations these days revolve more around our shared challenges as working, 40-something mothers of toddlers.

One of the best parts of having a blog is the friends you make.