Monthly Archives: October 2011

Hush Little Baby

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There are days when I look at Tay, sleeping soundly in his stroller seat or in my lap and I can’t help but remind myself of how vulnerable he is.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that now that he’s no longer a newborn with spindly limbs and a frail little cry.

I think about how large and merciless the world is and I can already count myself incredibly lucky for having had a healthy baby in a civilized country with healthcare and education in a comparatively safe part of the world. My baby has a father who loves me and loves his son unreservedly. We have jobs and a house and clothing/food/transportation and we live comfortably enough.

Still, I look at my sleeping baby and I know that the world, even when you live in a privileged part of it, is full of hatred and anger and ugliness. I think of all the mothers before me who suffered through the cruelest of times: women who had their babies torn from their arms by enemy soldiers in times of war, who had to watch as someone took a tiny person, helpless, scared and confused and snuffed out their life with nothing more than a heavy rock or the butt of a rifle.

It’s horrible, I know.
It’s morbid of me to think of these things sometimes when I have a peaceful moment with my child.

But it also makes me think about the future of my boy.
It makes me think of how we comfort our children, with hugs and kisses and telling them it’ll be okay.

And I know that there will be a day, some day inn the future, when I won’t be able to make things okay for my child. No amount of hand holding or tear wiping or smiling will make it okay.

I have no idea when that day will come or what the circumstanes will be, I just know that it’s an inevitability in the life of every parent.
We’re only human, after all, even if our children may not realize that for a while.

In the meantime, I try to push those thoughts away and cherish the smiles and laughs and cuddles while they last.

And hope with all my heart that they last as long as possible.

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Daycare Identity and Parental Nitpicks

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It’s so very interesting, to finally be on the other side of the daycare experience. After spending a few years as a caregiver, I find myself conjecturing lately about how Tay and we as a family are perceived by the caretakers.

It’s inevitable that as a caretaker, there are some kids you look forward to seeing more than others (and this, of course, varies between kids and caretakers… don’t get all judgmental on me either, cause babies are people too and we all get along to varying degrees with different people) and I do not by any means expect my child to be the favorite of every teacher in his room.
I do know that every time I come to pick him up he is either sleeping in the lofted playpen (his teachers have assured me that he sleeps in a bed too, but apparently he tends to take his afternoon nap in the playpen, which I could care less about…they cover him up, he sleeps, it’s all good) or sitting very calmly and quietly either in a swing or a relax and playing intently with the toys in front of him.
Yesterday I actually almost choked up because there was my little boy, sitting so sweetly with big round eyes, playing so quietly with a toy.
Regardless of whether or not he’s endeared himself to any teacher yet, it makes me happy to see that he isn’t one of the kids who is always clingy or in tears. He’s certainly well adjusted.

It also seems he’s one of the “well dressed” kids in the room. Since Piet and I are hardly trendy dressers, I tend to attribute this to the fact that I’m still a “new” mom and I still find great pleasure in dressing my baby up with the megaton of clothes we received as gifts when he was born.
And after the little glitch in the heating at the beginning of the week I was determined to be sure Tay was always dressed warm enough for a broken heater. Suffice it to say I’ve raided the clothing stash and have been matching long sleeve onesies with pants and t-shirts when I run out of long-sleeved, long-legged onesies (of which we only have two). And the comments on how good Tay looks from one of his teachers has inspired me to take the time to actually plan his outfits for the day.
Because I’m a dork and positive reinforcement really works.

Aside from Tay being generally a sweetheart and a sharp dresser, I can only hope Piet and I are at least tolerable, if not likeable parents.

Often times, it’s the parents who are a lot more irritating than the children in a daycare environment and having been on the receiving and of parents who expect you to pay special attention to their child, want to control every single detail of their child’s day, constantly forget to bring diapers/spare clothing/etc., don’t ever seem to take the time to listen to your comments on their child’s day, and so on, I’ve been trying very hard to be on top of whatever the daycare needs while not being too stressy about my child.

At the same time, I’ve become fairly nitpicky about Tay’s feeding routine. This is mostly because we’ve switched to a “saturating” version of his formula and have successfully reduced his feedings from 6 bottles a day (which bumped him up from 75% to almost 95% in his weight curve) to 5 a day. However, the new formula almost works too well. With the regular formula, Tay tends to get hungry every 3 hours. With the saturating he tends to go 4 or 4 and half before getting hungry.

Without getting too tedious, if we only give him the saturating, he only gets 4 bottles before falling asleep for the night around 9pm. If that happens, he wakes up around 2 am starving for his fifth bottle. If I give him one feeding in the afternoon with the regular formula, he’s hungry for the 5th bottle around 9pm and he sleeps through the entire night until around 7 am.

Now, if you’ve hung in with me this long, first of all, thank you. You are a patient person.
Second, you may be thinking something like, “for heaven’s sake woman, who fucking cares about the details of your kid’s feeding schedule? So what if he gets 4 or 5 bottles before bedtime? Is it really that important to differentiate milk powder once a day?!”

And as the person that has to wake up at 2 am and feed the baby and then spend the next hour putting him back to sleep, I’ll tell you that it does matter, and I have Tay’s feeding down to almost a science.
But I also realize that I (and maybe Piet) am the only one who really cares about it. And even Piet doesn’t care much right now, since he’s not doing the middle of the night feedings (for now, since I’m not working).

As you can see, I can go on for quite some time about it.
I do, however realize that most people will want to slap me if I do.
I also though, now understand much better the parents who used to drop their kids off at the daycare and then go into agonizing detail about certain dietary or behavioral restrictions/rules/guidelines they had for their kids.

But still, if I ever start doing that to people (outside of this blog), someone better slap me.

One of Those Mondays

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After a nice weekend, today began with an emphatic MEH.

Piet and I decided to use cloth diapers for Tay (we do occasionally cheat with disposables, but I figure 75% less disposables is still 75% less in a landfill leeching into the soil) and the daycare agreed to go along with that. So I’ve been very much on top of making sure Tay has 3-4 bum geniuses at the daycare every day.
Every time I check Tay’s cubby he always seems to have more than enough cloth diapers. Sometimes he has more there than here at home. With that in mind I opted not to throw the customary 3 diapers into the stroller basket to take to daycare this morning. I also opted not to put an extra shirt or socks on Tay because every time I do, when I pick him up he’s usually stripped down to his onesie and I end up with a handful of extra clothing to take back home. So I popped him in a short sleeve onesie and some little pants, tucked him into his insulated little baby carrier bag and headed off to the daycare.

Figures he only had one cloth diaper in the daycare and the heating wasn’t working so the head caretaker (who intimidates me slightly) asked me if he didn’t have anything more to wear and basically made me feel like I was a horrible mother who was ill equipping them to handle my baby’s poop while simultaneously neglecting the basic neccessity of warmth.
Then she asked if I’d requested daycare on November 3 and 4th.
Um, well, last week when one of the other caregivers asked if he’d be coming Thursday and Friday, I said yes, since the paper we were given said the daycare was closed the 31-2. I had no clue that was considered a “special request” but apparently that whole week is considered a holiday and they’re extra strict about attendance if you request care that day, therefore you have to sign your name to prove you requested it.
I just kind of nodded dumbly cause um… no one had told me that. But I had assumed he’d be in daycare those days, so I signed and assured he would be.

After that I came home to find that one of the cats, most likely Luna had raided one of the garbage bags that wasn’t full enough to put out for the week and left nasty old pieces of cheese all over the floor. After cleaning that up I loaded the dishwasher, opened the block of detergent and proceeded to throw the block in the trash instead of the wrapper.

And that was all before 10 am.

Now I’m planning on hiding out and laying low until it’s time to pick Tay up in a few hours. Not too much can happen in the meantime, right?

 

Three Months: Exit Infancy

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My baby isn’t an infant anymore.

He’s taken strong strides firmly into babyhood, packing on some squishy thighs and a chubby double chin, cooing and burbling and grinning at everyone cheerfully, rolling onto his side (he almost rolled entirely from back to front last night but his elbows got in the way), and screaming at his mobile in frustration when the rolling doesn’t go his way.

He goes to daycare in the mornings now and has never had problems with separating, nor, surprisingly, did I have too much trouble separating from him. His daycare is literally around the corner from us and from what I’ve seen of daycares both here and in the US, he’s in a good facility and his caretakers seem genuine and kind.

We were advised to switch to a “satiating” form of his formula because he was getting hungry frequently throughout the day and his weight jumped from the 70th to the 90th percentile on the growth chart. So far so good with the new formula and next month we were advised to start with solid foods.

I guess it’s a mommy thing, to be agonizing over what I want the first food my baby to eat to be. Piet seems to be leaning towards fruit, I’m leaning towards vegetables.

For what it’s worth, as of right now, Tay seems content with his fist.

Of Headscarves and Hidden Stereotypes

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This past Tuesday I began my post natal physical therapy group. Two of the other four women were from my prenatal group, both of whose babies had been born a week or two early. A third woman has a little girl who is Tay’s age and who was also induced a week after her due date, although she didn’t have a c-section. The fourth woman was there with her youngest of 4 kids, a little girl who is 10 months old (significantly older than the rest of our babies who are all 2-3 months old).

This fourth woman was wearing a headscarf and spoke with an accent that was stronger than mine, although she seemed a lot more at ease speaking so I can’t say if she is an immigrant or a first generation Belgian of some other descent. Either way, I didn’t think too much of it I suppose, until I looked over half way through the session and saw that she had removed her headscarf.

And much to my surprise, I was shocked.
I’ve seen plenty of women in head scarves here, especially in our neighborhood which is more immigrants than Flemings and it never occurred to me that they remove their scarves outside of taking a shower or sleeping.
I know that they can take them off if there are no men around, but I’ve never been close enough to a Muslim woman who wears a headscarf to have ever been in the presence of one when they are allowed to take the scarf off.

And suddenly I saw this woman as something completely different than I had five minutes before. She had very pretty auburn-brown hair twisted up with a clip and seeing it made her face look ten years younger.
She looked like, well, like a regular woman.

Which is horrible to say, I know.
Like women who wear head scarves aren’t regular women.
But that’s when I realized that, despite the fact that I don’t consider myself racist or ignorant, I do apparently subscribe to some stereotypes.

I see women in head scarves and I confess, I automatically assume they are uneducated, either by choice or by circumstance or that they simply don’t respect themselves and allow themselves to play the role of “submissive” rather than take an active role in society. I see something slightly less than an autonomous person.

I made quick, unconscious assumptions when I first saw this woman enter the p.t. room and once I saw her without her head covered it dawned on me that had she not been wearing the scarf in the first place, I’d’ve made completely different assumptions about her without even second guessing myself.

Even now, after several days of muling it over, I’m partly ashamed of myself for swallowing the stereotypes surrounding these women so easily that I didn’t even realize I was doing it. At the same time, from what I understand, a woman covering her head in such a manner is doing so partly to make herself less noticeable (especially to men) and in doing so does, at least in part, subscribe to the Muslim ideology* that somehow women are inferior to men, or are nothing more than a temptation to men that must be covered up and hidden away.
So then I have to wonder, if that’s how the woman views herself, am I wrong to view her the same way? If someone follows a certain belief structure and accepts the assumption that they are inferior, what then is the proper attitude to take for an outsider like myself? Am I being disrespectful if I try to see the person according to the assumptions of my own belief structure? Am I being untrue to myself if I accept the person as what they want to be viewed as (i.e. “inferior”)?

Obviously I have no answers for myself at the present, simply a strong desire to go take some philosophy and religion courses at a university. And while I sadly, don’t have enough time for that, I do have the time and ability to stop myself from unconsciously absorbing and applying stereotypes to the people around me.

Accept for Moroccans. Don’t even get me started on Moroccans.**

 

* I realize there are many kinds of Muslim beliefs and some probably don’t preach the inequality of women. If anyone has an unbiased resource for me to learn more about the Muslim faith, I’d be interested, if for nothing else, not to be ill informed.

** JOKING