Friday, July 25, 2014

On Double Standards

Two sets of parents sit down at a restaurant. The genders of the parents or their sexuality are unimportant but for the sake of this situation we'll err with the majority - two heteronormative sets of parents in monogamous relationships. One set has a small child with them; the other set is obviously expecting.

They are Mom A and Dad A, the newly expecting parents, and their good friends, Mom B and Dad B, the ones who already have a child.

The group settles in and exchanges their pleasantries. As seems to happen with every group with there are children or pregnancies involved, the conversation eventually changes to child rearing.

Dad B: "So.. Are you going to.." He makes a scissors motion with his fingers. "Have the baby.. You know?"
Dad A: "Circumcised? Well, yeah."
Mom A and B roll their eyes and go back to their conversation. This doesn't appear to interest them much.
Dad B: "Oh. Why?"
Dad A: "Well, you know." He looks uncomfortable. "Our doctor says it's healthier. Cleaner. All that build up of smegma junk, you know. And it'll smell."

They both laugh uncomfortably. Mom A nods at what she's heard her husband say.

Dad B: "Ya know, really, I mean.. You can teach them to fold everything back, clean themselves."
Dad A shudders.
Dad B: "You don't have to have it snipped."
Dad A: "Well.. Maybe the kid'll clean itself when it's a little older, but.. What about when it's young? I don't want to have to be messing around with a baby's.. Bits."
They laugh again.
Dad B: "You know, little babies, you just wipe them like usual. You don't actually have to pull anything around. You just.. Wash. And when they get older? Well, kids learn to clean themselves. And they continue as adults."

For a moment the conversation seems to stop. Dad A shrugs.

Dad B: "Have you guys talked about it at all?"
Dad A: "Well, kind of. But.. All the others will be.. Circumcised, you know. It's just the norm. I don't want my kid looking different from everybody else's kids. I can't imagine the confusion. Why didn't we do it, why's everybody else done, it's just.. How things have always been."
Dad B: "Trends are actually changing. Circumcision is becoming more rare. In fact, by the time our kids are in the locker rooms, most WON'T be. The ones who are cut will be the odd ones out."
Dad A: ".. Seriously?"
Dad B nods, very resolute. Dad A seems to think this over for a while.
Dad A: "But.. Ya know how it was when we were younger, right.. There was always that ONE who wasn't.. Cut.. And oh my god, it's all you heard about, how nasty it was, how gross it was. I don't want that to be my kid."
Dad B: "So they learn to wash. Besides. If someone is going to purely judge their interest in your child based on whether or not they're circumcised, of all things.. Is that really someone you want your kid in a relationship with? Doesn't sound healthy to me."

By this point the moms have begun to listen in. They're leaning a little closer, trying to make it look like they aren't paying attention, but it's obvious that they are. The dads pause, smile a little, clear their throats.

Mom A: "Circumcision reduces the instance of UTIs."
Mom B: "Aaactually, it really doesn't. Why is it that one gender gets a round of antibiotics and told to pay attention to hygiene more carefully when there's a UTI, and the other gets the recommendation of circumcision if it hasn't already been performed? Sounds like bunk to me. Besides, our country is really the only one left that circumcises frequently with no medical need. Europe, Canada, and so many others just don't anymore, and you don't hear about a massive wave of UTIs and other diseases spreading around like wildfire because people aren't cut."

Mom A blinks. She hadn't thought of that before. She frowns.

Dad B: "Hey, we don't want to tell you what to do. But there's really no reason to circumcise if it isn't medically necessary, you know? Plus, it's rarely done with the proper amount of anesthesia, a baby can't tell you if they're having symptoms of complications, diapers can mask the amount of blood loss to a point where it's already deadly and you don't know it, never mind that you're removing healthy erogenous tissue from a baby who can't consent." He shrugs. "It's just stuff. It probably won't kill them, but it might. It might not leave them scarred for life - or then again, maybe it will. You can't tell before hand if something bad will happen. It isn't a risk we wanted to take." He takes his partner's hand. She smiles.

Mom A: "You mean, you guys didn't..?" She points at the baby, who is happily babbling away at something.

The other two parents shake their heads.

Mom B: "Risk versus benefit. There just wasn't enough of a benefit for us. It made no sense. Our pediatrician agreed and was even the one who brought up whether or not we had considered it in the first place. He was thrilled when we said we chose not to."

Mom A frowns. She seems to be thinking something over very heavily, and finally, she clears her throat. She glances at her husband, then back at the other two.

Mom A: "How.. How do you explain the fact that they look different from you..?"

Mom B smiles and puts her arm around her partner.

Mom B: "We say that the cycle of abuse has stopped."
Dad B: "We say that we know that the decisions our parents made were the best they knew how to make, but that things change and people learn that things can be done differently."
Mom B: "And when our daughter is old enough to really understand why she wasn't circumcised, she'll have the choice to make for herself."

The A family looks kind of impressed.

Mom A: "I don't really want to circumcise my perfect little girl." She doesn't sound too proud. "But I thought it's something we had to do."

The other parents shake their heads.

The cycle can stop. If we don't cut our girls... Why do we cut our boys?

20 Things I Will Never Go Crunchy For: #17

#17: Kale.

I don't even need to include a link to anything. If you are at all crunchy, you are likely aware of what kale is. It is an insanely robust superfood, full of calcium and antioxidants and vitamin K and potassium and every other sort of good thing known to man that has ever come of a green plant. It has no fruit and the stems and roots are inedible but the leaves themselves are diverse, able to be eaten as part of a salad, used in rolls, added to noodles, stir fry, shredded and made into all sorts of interesting things, pressed into flat wafers for nearly any situation... In short, kale is pretty much perfect and if you go to your healthcare provider and mention that you have begun to consume more kale they will probably clap their hands with joy.

I hate it.

I will preface this by noting that I have always been.. Shall we say, difficult, when it comes to eating my veggies. As a child I would only touch potatoes and corn, and only moved into broccoli and green beans as an adult. I now will also eat spinach (raw and cooked in things) and will consume a few other things if they are well disguised, but kale is unfortunately the one thing I have yet to be able to get over. I have enough of a hard time with plain cooked greens, so that's out - and I've tried it in chips and as chips and all kinds of other ways that should be appealing as a junk food addict, but I can't get over the flavor.

I just CAN'T.

I keep giving it a good try, as parts of rice snacks and with teriyaki flavoring and everything else under the sun. Maybe I just haven't found that perfect combination yet, but I can't stand the stuff. And may the heavens forbid I ever get a good taste of the stuff - I promise I will probably gag, juvenile as that is. I don't even care. It's nasty.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

On Making It This Far

If you had told me after G was born - or especially after A, having failed twice in my mind - that I would be sitting up at 12:30 AM happily pumping to keep from becoming painfully engorged while my nearly seven month old nursling slept fitfully beside me (darn teeth), I would have called you crazy. I had yet to nurse a child beyond two months, though I had high hopes both times. My ideal nursing relationships would have lasted well beyond a year - though of course I would have reluctantly called it quits whenever my beautiful boys would have decided it was time to stop. But they never did work out to begin with, and it left my heart and breasts deflated and broken.

Then there was E.

Much has changed - my support, my knowledge, my situation. My resolve has grown ten times over, and I have learned well how to handle the problems that often stand between a newly nursing mother and her bitty baby. My birth with E was different in many ways, too, as was the postpartum period (that ended up being thrown disastrously off). I have grown and changed and learned so very much. It has all lead me, blessedly enough, to being a mom who has breastfed a baby for the better part of a year - without a drop of formula or (although there's nothing wrong with it) another mom's milk passing his lips. He has begun to eat solids now (okay, he started nearly two months ago, when he first started getting teeth and displayed all of the expected food-ready developmental milestones one would watch for), but I am still his primary source of nutrition and, most importantly, comfort. He will at times prefer a pacifier if his sole need is simply to suck, but if he truly feels comfort is necessary he will sooner turn to me and no other will do.

It is the most amazing thing in the world!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

On The Struggle

I have struggled for some time with my weight.

When I say "struggled for some time", I don't mean that I've spent the last couple of years 10 or 20 pounds overweight and constantly staring at myself in the mirror, frowning and poking at a comparatively minimal amount of "extra" while complaining about how unjust the world is. I mean that over the last five years I have successfully (if one can even call it a "success" without smirking) gained some 100 pounds, each of which have lumped another problem onto my body and my scale. Add to that an addictive personality and I'm practically set up for disaster from the get-go: I become too easily attached to people and things, I'm fairly disorganized, and I have a tendency to turn to food for companionship and ... Well, I've been down this road before on here. More than once. Probably more times than I'm honestly comfortable admitting. It's part of who I am, to hate what I am becoming, and it's something that I feel has been pushed into every ounce of my being.

I hate me.

And it's pretty tough, in all honesty, spending nearly three decades - okay, more like two and a half, given that I'm only 28 - in an extreme place of hatred and self-loathing. I doubt me. I dislike me. I seek attention in whatever ways I can find it (usually in the addition of piercings or using hair color) because I need people to notice me for SOMETHING other than the fact that I'm ugly or the fact that I am so ungodly huge. I guess I should have warned you at the get go, this is not a post about self-love and acceptance and positive body image. I don't have any of those things, though I've tried in the past to welcome the concepts into my life. So if you're looking for feel good, if you're looking to have a nice time with someone who is going to casually mention how lovely she feels about herself, you might want to look elsewhere. Unfortunately my page is not the place for that right now.

That being said, the above three word statement is very, very true. It sounds harsh to most - self-hatred is often associated with severe depression, anxiety, and a self-esteem that is so low it might as well be hanging out in the Mariana Trench. But it's the truth. I HAVE been depressed and struggled with severe anxiety and a few other issues most of my life, although I haven't told many people any of that, and I'm positive my weight has affected aforementioned problems. It's so ingrained in me now that I am a fat, unattractive person that even if I did lose the amount I needed to (over 200 lbs), I still wouldn't have any idea what to do with myself and would likely still hate how I look. Mind you, that doesn't mean I don't want to lose the weight. I know that my health and future depend upon my ability to become more healthy. I may not be able to undo the damage that has already been done, but I may well prevent more from happening, and some of my issues may well improve to some degree. Those things alone - never mind the smaller clothing sizes, the sheer decreased size, the ability to fit into spaces I couldn't before, the ability to keep up with my kids - should drive me to want to lose weight and gain the stamina and strength I don't have right now. It's hard, though, when your entire life revolves around the idea of taking comfort from food, to convince yourself that you can make a big enough difference to move forward with your journey.

So if you've learned anything, kids, learn to not eat yourself into feeling better.

Monday, July 14, 2014

On Dreadlocks

I want dreadlocks.

When I say that, I don't mean it as some cutesy comment after which I giggle and flip my hair and go find something girly to do. I mean that I want something like this:

or like this:

Of course, I never will have anything like either of those pictures, nor the lovely dreadlocks I imagine in my head. There are multiple reasons why, despite my deepest desires, dreadlocks will never become me - mostly in that they require putting far more work into the maintenance of my hair than I care to. I have a hard enough time brushing it out, keeping it washed, and finding something halfway acceptable to do with it as it is. I can't imagine having to try to start the dreads myself (I can't afford to have someone sit down and do this for me), much less then having to maintain them. It boggles my mind to think about the effort required. But I can still dream, and stare longingly at what I consider to be very beautiful, and wish that maybe someday I can clamber after this boho style that I so dearly love.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

On Boobs

I walk around my house with my boobs hanging out a lot anymore. It isn't really a coherent decision I make at any point in time during the day - there's no, "Oh, man, it is TOTALLY tits out time!" - but it just sort of happens, depending upon what I'm wearing that day. It isn't something that ever would've happened before, but as a mom of a six month old with a voracious appetite and as an admittedly lazy woman I've found that a lot of the time it's easier. No matter what I'm doing at home, I know that soon I'm going to need to feed E again and that's going to mean undoing the nursing bra or pulling the bra up and readjusting a shirt and pulling up another shirt and this and that and the other. It's a layered thing that leaves me typically leaving my breasts out in a more comfortable way.

Yes, this sometimes means that my oldest boys see my breasts. Then again, they see them when I'm feeding E and when I'm getting into or out of the shower or getting dressed and they barge into the bathroom to use the toilet or brush their teeth or ask me a confusing question about Portal. My breasts aren't anything new or interesting to them, they're just another body part (but one that they know they aren't allowed to touch without permission, because we do practice an understanding of personal space). That's how I want it to be, honestly; I have no interest in teaching them that breasts are feared and should be avoided until they're old enough to enjoy them sexually, at which point breasts are acceptable only to oogle. I want them to understand that first and foremost breasts exist to feed babies; that at one point, for even the shortest of times, they shared this sort of relationship with me too. I want them to understand that while breasts are pretty and fun to look at (or at least will be in a few years), their first purpose is to feed babies, and while they are out to feed babies, they are not sexual or scary and they should not be hidden.

I'm proud that while they still find breasts giggle-worthy to a degree, they are able to discuss them and my ability to feed their brother without shame. My breasts don't unnerve them. (Although admittedly they'll ask me to cover back up the one I'm not feeding with at the moment when they come over to cuddle with me.) And I'm okay with that, because they know inwardly that while my breasts are to feed the baby they are still also a private thing, and I appreciate that they understand that they do not get to touch them without permission. I love that they are able to walk around without a shirt on, or in only underwear, without being bothered by the idea that they are somehow showing off more of their body than is acceptable. The downside to all of this, of course, is that in "polite society" we have one big difference: it's okay for them to have their shirt off, but my nipples are illegal.

I won't go into a rant about the legalities and unfairness of how society treats breastfeeding and the women and children involved, but I thought I'd share these thoughts as they came through my head.

Monday, July 7, 2014

20 Things I Will Never Go Crunchy For: #18

A long, long time ago I started a list of things I swore up and down I'd never use or implement in our daily lives, or things I'd never give up - things that are typically considered either very crunchy (and thus very eco-friendly) or things that are so anti-crunchy that most self-proclaimed crunchy families give them up quickly (see: hot dogs). I started that list back in 2011 and got through all of two posts in it before I promptly forgot about it entirely. But today I'm bringing it back! Mostly because I thought of something else I don't think I could ever, ever do.

#18 is family cloth.

I didn't actually really need to link to an article on that; it's exactly what it sounds like. Although cloth wipes seem to me to be a whole different genre of "okay", the idea of using cloth for the rest of my family to wipe their butts is to me disgusting. Not to knock anybody who uses them - hey, that's your choice! - but I have no desire whatsoever to breach this wall. Holy cow.

Not that they aren't cute; I've seen lots of super-crunchy families (moms especially) who make and maintain adorable little containers for them, who stuff them back into said containers in a nice neat order, who just kind of make the whole thing look rather attractive if you ignore the fact that the number of cloth wipes that would need to be pulled out of a toilet full of poo while everybody's adjusting to this change would be massive. I already have enough diapers to wash, and I worry enough about them getting as clean as they should (I have an HE front loader and no way to soak them). Sometimes they stink. I'm already having ammonia problems with them but don't have any blue Dawn at the moment to strip my diapers. I can only imagine the added laundry I'd be doing, never mind the SMELL of these things sitting or immediately upon usage if I had ammonia issues with them, too.

Are they environment-friendly? Well, that depends. Toilet paper can be harmful to septic systems but decomposes quickly and fairly easily. It is often made of recycled materials. Downsides are that we need a LOT of it as a family of four who uses the potty, which means that we are tossing a lot of TP down the drain (quite literally) and thus are spending a considerable amount on it. Other downside would of course be that although it decomposes, it is also heavily bleached and treated with other chemicals to get it as white as it is. Cloth results in less going into the sewer, but it needs to be washed - which means putting more detergents into the water supply and means it must be further inundated with chemicals to get the detergents out.

So which is better? I can't judge for your family. But I know we won't be using family cloth anytime soon.