Friday, March 27, 2015

Getting Someone (Else) Off My Chest

Toddler nursing.

It is August, 2009. I write, "I can't imagine nursing a two-year-old. I think I would go crazy." My milk-loving toddler weans two and a half months later. It's mostly his idea. Despite my feeling like I have no idea what I'm doing, it seems just right.

Fast-forward to today. My second toddler loves milk even more than her brother did, it seems. At two-and-a-half years old, Ivy is still going strong on the nursing front. She opts for breastmilk instead of breakfast most days, and has a knack for asking, "Mama, kai [can I] nurse?" when it's least convenient to do so. She nurses at least six times a day. Add any kind of stress into the mix—busy day, developmental milestone, Daylight Savings Time—and that number jumps up to eight or nine. I might be going part because I'm not going anywhere, stuck in this chair under a 31-month-old baby.

I've banned the word crazy from our family vocabulary—as in "she's crazy"—because it's a word so often used in our culture to dismiss another person's feelings (especially if that person happens to be female). But I employ "crazy" in my interior monologue on the regular. As in, I'm going/must be/definitely crazy.

The crazy as it pertains to nursing a toddler is really ambivalence. Breastfeeding has never been my favorite thing. But it's not usually my least favorite thing, either. I am split down the middle between ever-so-done with this nursing relationship and awed that I continue to be a source of comfort and nutrition for my daughter in this way. I'd like to have my "body back" (whatever that means) tomorrow, put my foot down and say, "no more nursing"—while I also have the deep sense that when Ivy is 20, I won't wish I'd weaned her sooner. I'd like her to branch out nutritionally and eat a greater variety of foods, sit down to breakfast like a "normal preschooler" (whatever that means)—while I also know that  nothing I serve her in a cup or off a plate is going to match what she can get from my specifically-calibrated-for-Ivy breastmilk. I hate being stuck in a chair at nap time, but I still feel that cuddle-hormone bliss when she drifts off to sleep in my arms.

On a bad day, nursing my toddler can be just the mood-reset button I need. On a different bad day, it's jaw-clenchingly, skin-crawlingly awful. And on a good day, it seems just right.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Two Good Days

Finally, finally something clicked and I've had two consecutive days now where I didn't feel like blowing my brains out. Things haven't been easier, not really. But I've felt more calm and even. Ivy kicked over a glass of water on the table this morning (because of course she was sitting on the table) and as I mopped it up with a kitchen towel that had already dealt with more than its fair share of spills that hour it occurred to me that a few weeks ago, I would've been in tears by now. I guess I finally got a little bit of a grip.

It helps that I'm finally feeding myself the way I feed Rob and my children. I pack my lunch every day now. For Christmas I got new glass food storage containers from both Rob's mom and my mom, and I'm using them to portion out multiple lunches ahead of time. Protein, starchy vegetable, and leafy greens all nestled together, ready to be microwaved at noon.

Eating meals and not just whatever comes to hand makes it easier to roll with the toddler punches. Finding a groove with two-year-old Ivy has been challenging. She's firmly in the Everything You Do is Wrong stage, where she asks me for a banana and then looks offended and turns away when I hand one to her. I don't know how much to go along with this impossible, unfair game. As much as I want to pull my hair out when Ivy shrieks at me to pour her smoothie in the blue cup—"not dat blue cup, de udder blue cup!"—she's two, and when you're two the color of your cup and picking your own straw and which socks you wear matter. So I let it be okay that it matters to her right now, because this two shall pass.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Seven (& Eleven Days)


Westley turned seven on the first of this month. I wasn't really sure what to say about that. I thought I might copy off my own paper, so I glanced back at the things I wrote about his sixth birthday. The more I think about it, the more he seems like the same guy he was last year. Just more so.

Happy Birthday

That's a thing about birthdays for me: regardless of whose it is, a birthday is always kind of a let-down. Somehow I got it into my head that on your birthday, something MAGICAL happens, and you are suddenly A TOTALLY DIFFERENT YOU now that you're another year older. Not only is that not the case, but it's an easy notion to disprove once you have children and watch them not change as they get older so much as become more fully themselves.


I don't write much about Westley anymore because I don't write much about anything anymore, but also because he doesn't like people talking about him—or even to him. At seven, Westley is loquacious, rambunctious, imaginative, and deeply something I can't put my finger on. Sensitive begins to scratch the surface of it. He really discovered drawing this past year, and through his pictures and stories, I get glimpses into what seems to be the rich inner life of a boy who marches joyfully to the beat of his own drum.

* * *

We finished out Westley's birthday week with trip to see PNB's Nutcracker, just him and me. It was the most fun we've had together in a long time, and Westley's full-self sigh-of-relief at not having to share me with his sister was palpable. (Westley and Ivy are best friends and worst enemies, sometimes within the same half-hour.)


Nutcracker more than tops our first-ever movie in the theater as my favorite Mommy-Westley date. Westley was a charming companion, and he loved every minute (except waiting in line). It was the something MAGICAL every birthday deserves.

And he's been humming the music ever since!