Wednesday, April 20, 2016

In Which My Brain Apparently Dripped Out of My Ear and I Was Unaware

The other day, my brother related a little incident to me between his roommate and his roommate's friend, or something like that. Very third-hand. Anyway. So, do you remember this?

Apparently my research on a (fake!?!) falcon mummy is still the most interesting thing to happen to the SWKT, because four years later, it's still there.  Recently, this friend-of-a-friend of my brother's took a picture of herself next to this poster of me and posted it somewhere, captioning it with something to the extent of "Stick it to the man, ladies! So proud someone has a brain and decided to get an education instead of get married and have babies!" Or, you know, something like that.

Hold on, I have to go make a bottle for my infant son.

Ok, here's the thing. I'm no stranger to this attitude. When I applied for Grad School a few years ago, the woman I thought I wanted to be my program director told me that I wasn't a good candidate because I'd recently gotten married and would probably be too busy having babies to prioritize attending class and writing a thesis. And an old boss once said something about offering part time work to moms because "otherwise they'll just be at home wasting their intelligence."  And there's this assumption that having kids means I have nothing to talk about but my children. I have so many interests. My kids are just one of them. It does hurt a bit when we introduce ourselves as a couple to new people and they always ask Sam about what he does and what he's into and where he's been. When people ask me anything they're just asking how old the kids are or if they're "easy."  The implication in these kinds of statements is that I've somehow squandered my existence by choosing this path. 

Why do we treat children like the new ball and chain? Why do we treat women who choose to have a child like they're some sort of brainless dunce with crossed eyes and a string of drool hanging out of their mouths?

Let me toot my own horn for a second.  First of all, I am one of just a billion examples of a woman who got a college education AND got married and had kids. Before I had kids, while I was married (I only mention this because of the similar stigma attached to marriage), I completed a BA in anthropology, had two research projects go to competition (and I won one, somehow...), supported my husband and myself with two part-time jobs, worked numerous post-college jobs, and took care of a demon cat (I really deserve credit for that). All through my pregnancy with Rosalind, all through her babyhood, and all through the first 7 months of my pregnancy with Remy, I was working at a couple different jobs. I started a side business on Etsy during that time. Oh, and I took care of my family too.

The point I'm trying to make is that getting married and/or having a baby does NOT mean you are compromising your life, your brain, your education.  In our society, typically, and fortunately, we have a CHOICE. I CHOSE to get married. I CHOSE to get pregnant and have two babies. I also CHOSE to finish college, CHOSE to work, and CHOSE to quit working after a while. And eventually, I'll probably go back-- maybe to work, maybe to school, maybe both. But in the mean time, I'm not stagnant. Over the past couple of years I have learned loads about nutrition, pregnancy, women's health, birth, early childhood development, etc. I've read dozens of books on a variety of subjects. I run the family budget and pay all the bills. I cook, and I really enjoy it. I've pursued hobbies and interests. I've travelled, with and without my children. I've learned and I've taught and I've been humbled and buoyed up. I've been an adult. If I had decided not to have children, cool. But I did. And that doesn't mean I wasted my life.

This is just a phase of my life. Little kids require a LOT of care. They're incapable of everything when they're born, and it's Sam's and my responsibility to teach them how to do everything, to keep them safe and healthy, and to teach them to be good humans who want to make the world a better place and help others reach the same goal. Where's the shame in that? I find none. It's a worthy pursuit, and for the time being, it's my biggest priority.  I'm free to do as I please with my life. When they're in school, I'll have a little more flexibility in how I spend my time and when, but for now I am alright with this stage. It doesn't last forever. And with every increase in frustration and annoyance (as far as their development goes) comes an increase in glowing pride or smiling at the cuteness and hilarity of it all.

No, I haven't compromised. No, I haven't given anything up. I made a choice. And while when I started this post irritated and offended, I'm just going to write off those people as na├»ve. I'm just fine. I don't need their stamp of approval on my lifestyle choices. Can we just stop with the stereotypes and get to know women for who THEY are, children or not? Not who society sees them as, or who their children are, or anything else?  People are people, and personally, I have found that absolutely everyone has at least one interesting story to tell, regardless of their background. Stop assuming X is better than Y. It's not. 

File under: feminism, cursed mummies, take a chill pill

Friday, April 8, 2016

C'est Vendredi!

I figured it's been a while since I wrote, and kind of loads has changed at this point, so an update post is in order!  I have a lot on my mind, so this post might be "all higgeldy-piggeldy" (bonus points if you legitimately know what that's from).  Let's pretend it's one of those "Thoughts for Friday" posts that bloggers do.  Here we go:

1. Rosalind is (sort of) toilet training!  Yeah, I don't really care either for when people publicize this kind of thing, but I'm a little bit excited.  I'm not super consistent (I know, I know), and sometimes we only do it about half the day, or just when we're in the house, but it's going okay.  Sometimes she does that thing toddlers do where they lie about needing to go so they don't have to stop playing, but that's okay.  We're using training pants that still allow her to feel wet, so she knows right away when she's had an accident, and I'm confident this will help her learn a little faster because she's got to get tired of wetting her pants eventually...right...?  #noob  Anyway, she loves her training pants (they didn't have white in her size so we got these patterned ones).  I also got her some real underwear and she keeps asking to wear it but I told her she has to be ready.  She's excited.  We will see.
Deer + dinosaurs
2. We moved out.  I mentioned this on Instagram.  We had a cockroach infestation (and several spiders) that was getting out of hand.  They took over the kitchen and started in on our bedrooms.  I found a couple crawling in Remy's bed while he slept.  I have permanent willies.  Anyway, the exterminator came and killed them with something non-innocuous that liquified their insides and made everything in the house sticky.  We were told not to clean with anything but water for two weeks.  I really didn't feel comfortable bringing the kids home to that, considering they lick the floor and stuff.  When they said they needed to do a second treatment in a month, it sort of clinched it, and we made the call.  While packing, we discovered a huge growth of black mold in our bedroom, possibly from water draining into the crawl space under the house, which is beneath our bedroom.  Imagining cockroaches crawling on us in our sleep while we inhaled black mold really made me feel sick and very sad.  At the moment, we are staying in my parents' basement again.  We have a little privacy and our own space, to an extent, but I am really looking forward to finding a new home (though all the stairs are really toning my thighs...).  We feel a little optimistic about that, because...
For all those people who keep asking if she ever cries: yes.
3. Sam is planning on teaching at a new school soonish!  I'm not sure how specific I can be, just in case people from his current school are lurking in the shadows...  I'll let you guys know more when I know more about that.  Anyway, we are hoping that this means we can find a new home that we can be in a little more permanently!  I don't know if this means we can buy a house, but I'm personally hoping so.  Wish us luck!
Playing outside
4. Remy is cute.  He's getting bigger and stronger and older.  He is almost ready to move into his own room at night.  I cannot tell you how wonderful it has been to have his sleep mature.  We have actually been able to get 3-5 hour stretches at night for the past little bit!  Rosalind was incredibly difficult to comfort and had trouble getting to sleep, but she didn't wake up that often.  Remy was more of an every-one-or-two-hours kind of a guy.  Ugh.  Anyway, he's doing much better now (knock on wood).
And I love his outfit.
5. I'm SO EXCITED I'm doing a garden this year!!  I planned everything and started seeds while we were still in Orem, so I was originally planning on doing a container garden on our back porch, but since we've moved, my dad just so happened to have a garden box in their garden that he hadn't quite made plans for, so I get to use it!  I've done tons of research on companion planting, and I've tried to plan everything I'm planting to be stuff we can use fresh or store for later.  I'll probably be posting regular updates on this on Instagram, so get excited because there is nothing more exciting than plants (except maybe rocks).  Kidding.

6. So, remember how I mentioned I had that cancer scare when I found that huge lump in my abdomen?  Well, we finally (sort of) got answers on that.  It turns out that you have lymph nodes in other places than the ones I knew about (duh), including the abdomen.  In fact, you have lots of them there.  This is partly why your gut health has so much to do with overall health.  Anyway, I have at least one lymph node in my abdomen that is constantly enormously swollen.  It's not as creepy as it sounds.  The problem is, it's only swollen because something is aggravating it, and that's the real question.  They drew 5 vials of blood and checked all kinds of things-- for celiac, for pancreatitis (again), for elevated white blood cell count, and for 45 different food allergies, and I think a couple other things (I am not looking forward to this doctor bill, that's all I can say).  I was beyond relieved especially to hear that my pancreas is fine, but pretty surprised to discover everything else came back clean as well.  What??  They offered to refer me to a GI, but considering I have seen almost every half decent GI in Utah County (and one in Salt Lake), and they are all clowns (except the one in Salt Lake), I decided to pass on that.  I have been seeing GIs since I was like...14.  And I know what they will say: it's idiosyncratic, it's a syndrome, it's [insert fancy term here that basically means they have no idea].  So I'm trying to make some changes myself.  I'm starting a stronger probiotic, and I'm going to try making a few changes to my diet, which will be hard, because I already eat fairly well-- when I feel well enough to eat-- and the things I'm sensitive to, besides sugar, are considered "healthy" things.  So we will see.  If I really decide to get into this, I might do a longer post on it.  But trying to get well has been a lifelong struggle for me.  I jokingly call myself the runt of the litter (it helps that I'm also 3-4 inches shorter than all my siblings).  If I can get into a good wellness routine that really makes me feel good physically & emotionally, I will be very happy.  Oh, and if anyone has any tips (I can't guarantee I haven't already tried them) on improving long-term gut health, I am open to them :)

7. On a similar note, I think I've decided to go more chemical-free in my body products.  I've been mulling it over for a while, and with a handful of questions to my sister, and a lengthy conversation with one of my sisters-in-law, I have a handful of new (inexpensive!) products I'm excited to try.  I might do a longer post on this topic as well, if that interests anyone.
Another cute baby picture because babies
You guys, I feel like even though some crummy and stressful things have been happening lately, we are on an upswing.  I'm really excited for the changes happening in our life, even if they're going to be hard.  And the weather is starting to get warmer!  Hooray.