Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Lauren has her first tooth!

I haven't seen it yet; Grandma called to tell me she saw it this morning. Can't wait to get home and check it out.

How pathetic is it that when I heard the news I immediately thought of Hermie?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Mine. All Mine.

Okay, and Bret's too. Lauren Elisabeth's adoption was finalized on Friday. It was not so much a relief for me as a graduation of sorts. We're official. It was all a done deal a week after she was born, but it is nice to be finished with the legal stuff and social worker visits. Especially the social worker visits.

During the court proceedings, Lauren proved herself a true member of our family by noisily taking care of her ongoing constipation issues. Besides the red-faced "Nnnnggggggg" grunting, she also managed to pass a man-sized fart that made even the judge chuckle a little. That's my girl!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Grandpas rule

My daughter has the best grandpa. (I know what it's like to have a doting grandpa and it's pretty great.) He takes good care of her when he visits. We call him The Sandman because he has a magical ability to sing or soothe her to sleep (unlike the rest of us who just hope she won't cry when we put her down). He always wants to feed her and can't wait until he can take her for her first ice cream cone and her first train ride.
Bret told me that he overheard a conversation recently between Grandpa and another guy:
Guy: I'm taking my daughter to swim lessons tomorrow.
Grandpa: Oh? How old is she?
Guy: Nine.
Grandpa. My granddaughter's taking swim lessons — she's six months.
He later said he wanted to tell the guy that she's also taking music lessons, but didn't want to seem like he was bragging. She is a lucky girl.

P.S. No, Grandpa doesn't look like Grandpa Munster. But Grandpa Munster does look an awful lot like Paulie Walnuts.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Not a post about the gynie

Friday I had my annual gynie visit. A couple of years ago I found a new doc so I could go to a practice that was just GYN, not OB/GYN. I was tired of sitting in a waiting room surrounded by pregnant women, with all the associated literature, magazines, posters and imagery regarding pregnancy. So I found a new practice that, I’m fairly certain, is by lesbians, for lesbians. Which makes sense, since not a whole lot of lesbians are having babies. It’s nice not to be hassled about pregnancy or lack thereof, or confronted with pregnant 16-year-olds. Anyhoo, the visit was uneventful as usual. But when I de-stirruped and got off the table, my back bothered me a little bit, and slowly got worse as the day went on. By the time I got home Friday evening I couldn’t stand up straight and decided to lay on the floor, which usually helps. Bad idea. Every time I tried to roll on my side or lift up on an elbow to get up, I felt like I’d been tazed. Or what I imagine it feels like to be tazed. Waves of pain shot all the way down to my feet and brought tears to my eyes. (If childbirth is anything like that pain, I’m glad I didn’t have to experience it.) I couldn’t get up for 45 minutes, and feared that I was going to have call the fire department to come get me, à la those TLC shows where the squad comes to get the morbidly obese guy out of his house and into an assisted-living facility. Anyway. I was finally able to get up, but was in bad shape all weekend. Bret said I looked like Fred Sanford when I walked.

I was diagnosed with a herniated disk 12 years ago, but this was the worst flare-up I’ve had in years. In a haze of pain over the weekend I pleaded with God that if I would just get better, I’d promise to start exercising again. I am feeling a bit better today, but still a little hunched over. I guess that means I’ll be bringing my tennies to work again soon to resume my lunchtime walks. Darn bargains with God.

Friday, June 1, 2007

I have been thinking a lot about working and being a parent. The two things consume 99.9% of my time, so there are many issues to explore, but the overall question to consider is “why do I work?” The obvious answer is the paycheck. Having two incomes means I’m able to give my child experiences outside of her little world in the suburbs. Among other things, I want to expose her to big cities and national parks and camping and skyscrapers and everything I can—hopefully even other parts of the world someday. Now I can afford to take her to swim lessons and music classes to expand her mind and help her learn to use her body and feel good about both. (I keep hearing critical voices saying she doesn’t need classes to experience music or swimming. We sing and play music every day, thank you very much, but I don’t own a pool or know anyone who does, so I would have to pay for that somewhere!).
So I'm working just to pay for “extras?” No, not quite. Just the basics—reliable transportation, housing in a safe neighborhood with good schools, the ability to pay for college—are expensive. It’s sad but true that you can’t live just anywhere and be assured of these things anymore. If we tried to live on one income, we would be living in our old (unsafe) neighborhood (did I mention the crack pipe we found in our yard?) with the really bad schools and I will not subject my child to that just to have a stay-at-home parent.
There’s also the issue of my future, my family’s future. What kind of retirement would we have if we were only putting away money from one paycheck instead of two? What about life insurance? College?
But it’s also more complicated than that. I have realized how much I need to make my own money to feel secure. I am not anticipating being single anytime soon, but I would feel very much on shaky ground if I didn’t make my own money, if I didn’t know I could provide for myself (and now my child) if (God forbid) anything happened to Bret. It’s a psychological thing, partially tied up in my mother’s experience of being trapped in her marriage because she wasn’t working. But even more so, because she wasn’t working she had no power in her marriage. I know that sounds cynical, and why should draw the comparison to myself? After all, I am not in a crappy marriage like she was. Who knows. Who can account for how these things play themselves out in our psyches. All I know is that I would feel useless to the world, to myself, to my family, if I weren’t making money. I know, I know. Someone (a lot of someones) out there will say that staying home to raise your child is the most important thing you could be doing for the world, for her, blah blah blah. Maybe I am just too much like a man in this regard. (How many fathers do you know who’d be truly happy, who would feel fulfilled, not earning a paycheck?)

And I also realized this: my whole life it was assumed I’d go to college. I was badgered by my parents throughout my school years (including college) about my grades, about “applying myself” and getting As. I was kept out of activities when my grades weren’t what my parents wanted them to be. And for what? So that I would be a success in life, I assume. So that I would get into a good college and grad school and get a good job. (Otherwise, what’s the point of all that pushing?) I did marginally well (although never did truly “apply” myself), and three and a half years ago finally got a good job—one that is challenging, uses my talents and pays me well. And now I’m looked down on for actually keeping—and liking—this job because I have a child. Family members, friends and acquaintences have implied or stated outright that I should be staying home. No one would EVER question a man this way. (If a man chooses to stay home with his children, he’s looked down upon. Thought of as lazy, or not a real man. A woman who chooses not to stay home is thought of as selfish. Not a real woman.) No one has ever implied or suggested or said outright to Bret that HE should quit his job and stay home—despite the fact that I contribute a great deal to our family’s income, despite the fact that I have my advanced degree and he’s working on his.
I got my education and worked my way through several jobs for the same reason anyone does—to get a good job. Why is this different for a woman than a man? If it is, then it means that her education is…what? Finishing school? Just a way to pass the time until the man and the babies come along? I feel a responsibility to my family just like a man does—to PROVIDE for them. And anyone who’s seen my house or my clothes knows that I am not living an extravagant lifestyle. In fact, of all my friends, I am sure I have the crappiest house, the crappiest furniture (hello 1985 wallpaper and 1973 dining room table).

Is working a choice for me? Yes, because I choose to live in a safe neighborhood with good schools. I choose to drive a reliable, fuel-efficient car. I choose to be prepared for retirement, and not be a burden to my family or society in my old age. I choose to expose my child to as many good things the world has to offer as I can. I choose to be able to save for her education so she’s not saddled with the enormous debt I had when I got out of school. I would never try to tell someone that my way is best. I am tired of the media’s focus on the so-called “mommy wars” between work-at-home and work-outside-the-home moms and I have no interest in putting someone down for their choices. I’m just tired of being judged for mine.