Monday, March 31, 2008

Jung Love

If you give a baby a book on Jungian theory, he's going to want to discuss the ego in both its conscious and unconscious aspects.

When he reads about the ego, he's going to discover a footnote explaining that although some of Jung's structural terms are drawn from the Freudian psychoanalytic lexicon of the day, the terminology is not necessarily used in the same way.

He'll want to borrow your glasses to get a better look at the citations page.

When you give him your glasses, he's going to check the prescription.

He'll suggest that you schedule an appointment with your eye doctor.

And he'll perform a taste test, just to be sure.

The results of his taste test will determine that Jung was in desperate need of an editor, that technical reading is exhausting, that the mother is his favorite archetype, and that you should definitely get your eyes checked as soon as possible.


Friday, March 28, 2008

A Break-up Letter

Dear Job,

I think you and I both knew this day would come. Strictly speaking, we don't have to do this right now, but I don't want to drag it out any longer than necessary. I'm afraid that the longer we wait, the worse this will become.

You and I have been through thousands of pages of technical documentation together and our relationship has been pretty good -- until recently. Yes, you were demanding at times, insisting that I bring you home with me. But you provided me with a regular paycheck and the freedom to determine my own hours. When I needed to take a twelve-week break to focus on other things that were, uh, emerging, you seemed patient enough. You promised that you'd wait for me, that our relationship wouldn't suffer, that we'd make it work -- and I tried to believe that you were telling the truth.

However, it has come to this: there's someone new in my life, and I can't devote as much time and attention to you as I once could. I can't focus on your needs right now, and it's not fair to you. We need to go our separate ways for a while.

This probably won't be a setback or a huge disappointment to you. And why should it be? You are, basically, a contract position. Change is part and parcel of your whole existence. It's something that many people seem to like about you, but I'm just not comfortable with that kind of uncertainty right now.

I would worry about leaving you in a tough spot, but it's clear to me that this won't be causing you much heartache. After all, you've already found someone to replace me. I knew you were going to see other editors while I was away, but it's obvious that you don't really need me any more. Why else would you have me doing three-week Quality Assurance projects? One of the major reasons that I was determined to stay with you was maintaining a professional identity. I wanted to be able to call myself an editor, but I'm not sure you see me in that role.

So, Job, after two and a half years together, I'm saying good-bye after today. I think my leaving is the best possible choice for both of us. Maybe we can start seeing each other again in the future, when the new love of my life is a bit more self-sufficient, and if you can figure out whether I can fit into your future.

Please don't hold this against me -- especially if I find myself in a financial emergency and need your help in the future. I really liked having you.

Yours sincerely,

I'll come by to pick up my stuff next week.

Holy shit, I'm a stay-at-home mom.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Teens on the Bus

When I was eight and a half months pregnant with Westley, we moved out of our house in the 'burbs and into a finished basement in the city. With our new digs came a new commute for me on a bus that passes three schools on its way to downtown. I would sit near the back door and rest my heavy work bag on the seat beside me for the first part of the trip, watching the space around me slowly fill up with a rainbow of teenage flavors. Eventually, I'd have to move my bag onto my almost non-existent lap and share my seat with a girl doing permanent damage to her hearing with a too-loud iPod, or a guy who thought Axe Body Spray could take the place of a shower. And I would feel very grouchy and put upon because I was all pregnant and had to pee again and these damned teenagers were infringing upon my personal space. The ride home was similar. Some kid would inevitably ram his viola case or hockey equipment into my shins, and I would have a crotchety little "kids these days" moment in my head.

The week after Halloween, I was riding the bus home, hugely pregnant as usual and especially exhausted. Just as the bus was starting to clear out and I was feeling relieved that I could enjoy the rest of the ride home in a teen-free environment, a trio of high school freshmen boys boarded the bus. They were talking loudly, and they sprawled out on the seats in the front of the bus that are marked as being reserved for "elderly and disabled riders" and which I had decided were also the rightful property of pregnant women in need of some peace and quiet. I heaved a giant, annoyed internal sigh at the boys. One of them reached into his pocket for some M&Ms, and started eating them loudly, smacking as he talked. I wanted to throw something at him.

They were talking about basketball teams: who was good, who was really good. The smallest of the boys was sitting across from me. He made all of his comments in a sort shrill, insistent tone, like he was sure the other boys weren't going to let him talk. He noticed me looking at him, noticed my belly, smiled shyly for half a second, and then pointedly looked back at his friends.

"Adam’s the best," the biggest boy was saying. "But he's a sophomore." The other two agreed. "Joseph'll be in high school next year. Bet nobody'd score on his team." Agreement all around and continued candy-smacking.

"Bryan's good -- he's tall. Avery's good, too, for a girl."

"Whudda ya mean, for a girl? She's good for anyone," the smallest boy said, like it was the most natural thing in the world.

The conversation continued, with no real acknowledgement of this remark, but my mind stopped short. I had assumed that this was one of those macho posturing rituals, and hadn't expected that anyone would speak up for a female basketball player. It occurred to me that the smallest boy's attitude probably came from someone close to him -- like his mother. Then I thought about the baby inside me, and felt kind of sad. These boys weren't just teenagers -- they were each some mom's tiny baby. Someday, this baby in me might grow up to be an annoying, loud-talking, food-smacking bus rider.

Yesterday, I once again found myself annoyed by my fellow teenage passengers. I was tired, and the boys behind me were complaining loudly.

"Did you get a phone yet?"

"[Exasperated sigh.] No."

"Dude, you have to tell your dad you need a cell phone!"

Oh, you do not need a cell phone, I thought. The only people who need cell phones are people who have to be contacted about life and death situations. Doctors need phones. Midwives need phones. You do not need a phone.

Inside my head, I sounded like one of those out-of-touch parents who is like so totally uncool OMG. I thought about my little guy at home. He was probably asleep, with no way of knowing that his mother was already prepared to lecture his teenage self about why he didn't need a piece of technology. Then I thought for a minute about the boy with his basketball-playing friends. Tiny babies, I reminded myself. These boys were all once tiny babies.

When I got home, I scooped Westley up in my arms and kissed his milky, drooly cheeks. He suddenly looked much bigger to me. Not teenager-big, but close enough.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

More Hippie Than Hip

Wearing an organic cotton and bamboo hoodie to the health food store puts me in the same camp as guys who wear the concert t-shirt at the concert. In my defense, it didn't have breast milk stains on it (yet). Of course, I was also wearing Westley in a locally handmade baby sling.

Oh well. At least I don't smell like patchouli.


Sunday, March 2, 2008

3 Months

Yesterday was Westley's three-month birthday. He celebrated with a three-hour nap--nothing fancy. I looked through the hundreds of photos of him that I have yet to organize.

Every few days, I look at pictures of my little boy in his first few weeks. I'd think, "Yeah, that's what he looks like." But yesterday, the photos suddenly and mysteriously changed from "that's Westley" to "holy CRAP, he's grown so MUCH!" The skinny little shrimp is gone. He's all baby.

Now that he is out of his "fourth trimester" and looking like a Hollywood newborn, I'm trying to remember the details of those first few weeks--when I was too dizzy to see straight, let alone record what was going on with the tiny new person in my life.

At zero-to-one-month-old, Westley is like a space alien. He sleeps between us at night, and talks in his sleep--little grunts and squawks that don't disturb him at all, but keep me awake and wondering if everything is really all right with him. He also talks about what's going on with his insides. Bowel activity is preceded by an elaborate routine of fussing and writhing and crying. Pooping seems to upset him; it's like he doesn't know that he has to squeeze his tummy and relax his bottom. I wish I could tell him how to do it.

Breastfeeding is a nightmare, and I understand why some women try it and then quit immediately. It's miserable, especially in the middle of the night, when only God is awake. We have to wake him up to feed him, which is a cruel process for everyone involved. It's against nature to wake an eensy sleeping baby. When I'm especially frustrated--because he's not latching on well, or he's fallen asleep again--I start threatening him. "I'll show you. I'll nurse you 'til you're five."

Rob and I take him to church on Christmas Eve. The only place we can find to sit is in the Cry Room. We're surrounded by screaming toddlers and exhausted parents, but Westley sleeps through everything. I'm very thankful that I'm not pregnant and riding from Nazareth to Bethlehem on a donkey.

Sometime around Westley's six-week birthday, I realize that nursing him has gotten easier. Or, rather, he's gotten the hang of it. I still kind of hate it, but I love watching him eat and he's growing like crazy, so I’m stuck.

He coos when he sneezes. It's honestly the cutest thing I've ever heard. He'll sneeze two or three times in a row, followed by a nice long "Oooooooh." He's starting to smile, too. I won't let myself think that it's social, but it sure seems social. Sometimes when we look at him and start to talk to him, he gets this wide-eyed happy look on his face as though to say, "Oh hey, it's you! You're awesome!"

We take him on lots of mundane little adventures. He's great in restaurants. Riding through the grocery store in the ring sling always puts him to sleep. Sometimes he'll move his feet inside the sling and kick me in the ribs, and I can't really believe that the little person who was kicking me from the inside for all those months is now on the outside.

Westley sleeps in his own bed now. That way, he can talk in his sleep all he wants and I don't have to lie there next to him wondering when "uh…uh…uh" is going to turn into a full-blown wail. I kind of miss having him spooned up against me, my arm draped over and around him so that he can suck my thumb (because he can't get to his own), but everyone seems to be getting more sleep this way.

He still can't suck his thumb, but he'll happily cram both fists up to his mouth and slurp on the side of his hand. His fingers are endlessly fascinating. Sometimes he spouts long vowel-sound monologues while folding his hands in front of him. Toys are only mildly interesting. Hands are where it's at!

Watching Rob and me eat is the best part of Westley's day. We put his baby seat squarely in the middle of the table during dinner, and he watches us. His favorite food-viewing involves forks, and lots and lots of chewing. I wonder if he knows that what we're doing is eating, just like I wonder if he knows that kisses mean love.

There are two little white lines on his bottom gum. I can't really believe that this tiny boy will ever have teeth, but there they are, right under the surface. I'm afraid he's going to be interested in eating table food way before his doc says it's okay. But I guess we'll cross that bridge if we come to it, in the months still ahead of us.

I just can't believe we're here already.