So Tell Me ... What's The Weather Like on YOUR Planet?

29 November, 2009

Non-Ranty Mamablogging

It's hard for me to figure out how to write about this whole motherhood gig, because I'm pretty much convinced that the stuff I can't turn into some kind of political rant or interesting bit of introspection about the nature of my personal reality will be boring to the entire rest of the universe so why write it? Which tends to bias me towards only writing about stressors, because stressors are for blogging.

I don't think that's entirely well-balanced, so I want to fix it.

Here's Little Foot, vigorously waving a toy lion made for her by Vieva, who appears occasionally in the comments here. (Little Foot's a Leo. This was pretty much the logic under which the animal was chosen.)

She really loves her lion. It is one of her two favorite current toys (the other being a small fish with a jinglebell in it gotten off Etsy). If she's lying on on the floor and presented with the lion, her face will light up, she will grab it by two limbs, and then (usually) roll onto her side as if she's attempting to bodyslam it and gurgle happily. Up until she flings it up over her shoulder and then fusses because oh noes the lion it has ceased to exist.

The rest of the time she manages to drop the lion on her face and then flips out because it's eating my face it's eating my face get it off get it off get it off!

She also grabs the corners of blankets and often winds up pulling them over her face, which leads to what I call an Object Permanence Crisis: "The cosmos has ceased to be, for I cannot see it! Alert! Alert!" I am perhaps not as sympathetic to this as I ought to be, I merely free her from the predations of the reality-annihilating spit rag.

I am reasonably confident that we have done horrible things to her sleep cycles, as they have settled in at this point to semi-conform to mine, and I keep really weird hours. She does, however, willingly sleep something like five hours at a go almost every night, which is pretty good for not quite four months old. She's a little fussy lately, we think because she's contemplating the possibility of teething part time when she remembers to, but not terribly so, and she rarely cries all that much - though the last few days she's frequently woken up from a sound sleep going from zero to howling, and I suspect babynightmares.

Much like the family has one night a week for dinner prep obligations, we've divided things up so one of each weeknight one of the parents is on primary baby duty, which means they handle diapers and so on as much as is possible. This is a great system, and I highly recommend that anyone thinking of having a baby accumulate as many allomothers as they can handle, because the level of sanity this enables is amazing.

Today, the other half of the family returned from Thanksgiving away from home, due to complexities of compromise and family obligation; Little Foot went down for a nap after nursing at about 11:30, giving me two hours in which I could put together a perfect little family dinner to welcome them home with. This worked out brilliantly, and she didn't wake up until they got back, which meant other people got to deal with the next diaper.

I'll not deny that doing the full-time daytime parent thing is very hard for me. I'm a pretty extreme introvert, and an infant is, of course, demanding and in my personal space a huge chunk of the time. The help I can get from the rest of the family is critical to my ongoing stability and competence as a mum.

But I'm becoming increasingly convinced that post-partum depression rates have a lot to do with support structures. I'm aware that my long-term history with clinical depression makes me really high risk, and there have been times that I've felt the stresses pushing on the edges of toppling over into a depressive state. But I haven't been there yet. (I suspect, if it happens, it'll be when the other half of the family moves back into their house after they finish their renovations, because having the people around both for company and babyassistance is a big deal.) And part of not having been there is being able to say "Hey, could someone get me out from under the baby for a bit?" before I hit some kind of internal meltdown crisis point. It's leaving me feeling increasingly militant about the need for real social support structures for mothers, and that if the sort of feminism I'd been exposed to had been, say, the stuff from Mothers for Women's Lib and blogs I've found from there I might have a much less bitter relationship with the word "feminist" these days, as opposed to the reflexive comparisons between being a stay-at-home parent and the 1950s with their subtextual suggestion that there's a necessary equivalence. (I saw an instance of this yesterday. But this is supposed to be a non-ranty post, not another "Oh look, I get to be a brainwashed pawn of the patriarchy, Donna Reed style!" post.)

Anyway, out of the politicalised bits. I love watching Little Foot work on figuring out the world. We got her a bouncy seat to set her down in at times, and then we got a toybar for it. At first, she flailed her hands vaguely and was stunned when things moved. And then, slowly, over time, she moved to deliberate manipulations: that bead will slide from side to side, that flower spins. (A bit after that, she got bored with it, so I took it off the seat for a while and now she's willing to play with it again.) The process of cognitive development is amazing.

For example - this was something my liege noticed - I have one of those hawk silhouette decal things intended to keep birds from flying into windows stuck to my bathroom mirror, because I'm a weirdo. For a while, when we brought Sad Baby in there to dampen a wipe to change her diaper, she would stare at the decal and Fall Silent, because of the primitive mammal reflex that goes SHIT DEATH FROM ABOVE at raptor silhouettes. Now she looks at the baby in the mirror (or the parent in the mirror) instead.

When she sees me for the first time in a while - and some values of 'a while' are 'five minutes' - her face lights up with joy and she kicks enthusiastically two or three times with the sheer exuberance of it all. And I wonder, sometimes, if I have ever before had in my life someone so unreservedly happy to see me. There are times it makes me think of the stereotypical imaginary teenaged girl who has a baby 'so someone will love her unconditionally', and, weirdly, being a mother has given me more sympathy for that half-myth than I ever thought possible, even while it gives me an ironclad, hardcore, "Oh no no no no, hon, you don't have any idea what you're getting into."

I look at the world and I try to find ways to protect my child from parts of it, to introduce it to her so she can navigate it without taking grievous harm, to show her how to be strong and secure. I know that nobody escapes childhood unscathed, but I pray every day that she escapes it unmaimed.

More politically flavored post later, riffing some on these links assembled by Elf of Dreamwidth. I've been reading more and more of what gets called "mommyblogs" lately, for obvious reasons. (Psst, Mamacrow, you have a parenting blog somewhere, right?)

I leave you on this note:

7 comments:

Rootietoot said...

"But I'm becoming increasingly convinced that post-partum depression rates have a lot to do with support structures."
Wisdom, this is! Once upon a time, long time ago, this was in place, before families started spreading out,and grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc, all lived in the same area, or house, even.

"I know that nobody escapes childhood unscathed, but I pray every day that she escapes it unmaimed."
This is the essence of every prayer I've ever prayed for my children, no matter how old.

Little Foot's adorable, and never argue with a baby if they're happy to see you, even if you don't think you deserve such adoration.

Vieva said...

she is so CUTE! *squeals and goes into babymode*

ahem. Really. Don't know where that came from. :D

And I'm completely tickled pink that she likes the lion. That's just wonderful, and makes me warm and fuzzy. Let me know when you need more toys - I just bought a book of knit-toy patterns! :D

mamacrow said...

oh my gosh she is the CUTEST THING EVER!!!!

And I LOVE the Lion - you don't sell 'em on line do you Vieva?!

mamacrow said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ruth Moss said...

She's beautiful. My word it's hard work sometimes though! Support structures, oh hell yes (was married to emotionally abusive man, now a single mother, crikey support structures can make so, so, so much of a difference.... or lack thereof.)

I write at Mothers for Women's Lib, but I don't really consider myself a feminist. For, I think, similar reasons to you (I read your earlier blog posts about "spoiling feminism" etc.) Certainly I don't call myself a "feminist mum".

It's hard for me to figure out how to write about this whole motherhood gig, because I'm pretty much convinced that the stuff I can't turn into some kind of political rant or interesting bit of introspection about the nature of my personal reality will be boring to the entire rest of the universe so why write it?

Yes - this is why I have two blogs, an invite only "traditional" mummy blog (all about my child), and my main blog where I am a lot more ranty. Oh and a few other blogs too. Spreading myself about. Too thinly, probably. Ah well.

I like reading about Little Foot. :-)

Dw3t-Hthr said...

mamacrow - will delete comment as requested as soon as Blogger stops being a jerk and lets me. Hooray on the new little one!

Ruth - Hah, I have this blog, another two where I'm a contributor, and livejournal. I keep busy. ;)

DaisyDeadhead said...

Lovely post, Kia.

I wonder, sometimes, if I have ever before had in my life someone so unreservedly happy to see me.

Isn't it amazing?