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Archive for February 2012

The intensity of love

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“If having children is all about love, it’s also about passion, and once you have passion, there’s always this other side -of feeling desperately frustrated, perhaps feeling depressed, angry, all the other side of the intensity of love.”

-Sheila Kitzinger

Written by GRSeim

February 29, 2012 at 6:48 pm

Posted in Parenting Dilemmas

Color my world

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I feel comfortable letting my daughter color outside the lines. I want her to explore and define her own identity without being hampered by messages about what women are supposed to do and like. I hope that, someday, she’ll be able to look at me and laugh at my comparative close-mindedness and inability to see the big picture. I want her to have a better life than the one I’ve lead.

Fueled by these hopes, I feel joyfully confident when I dress my little girl each morning, sometimes in her sweet little striped pink dress paired with leggings and a cardigan, sometimes in a hand-me-down Mariners shirt and threadbare red pants. I just popped her into clean pj’s today. Melia’s little dresser explodes with color, ranging from pearly whisper pink to psychedelic tie-dye. This child will select her favorite colors from a very broad palette.

With my son, however, I have not felt so free. I was at a different point in my own development when he was born and had not yet started to ask questions about gender stereotyping and programming. I also fear social punishment; in a patriarchal society, it can be very dangerous to be the pretty boy who likes nail polish and parasols.

On the other hand, if my son can’t feel safe to explore the world with me at his side, how far can I expect to see him go as an adult? Is this not the best recipe for anger problems and repression?

This weekend, Darren and I hit the mall for some new “big boy” underwear. I won’t allow licensed characters in my home, so we tend to get our underwear at Penney’s and Hanna Andersson. Typically, I grab a package of basic white undies and head for the cash register, but this time I decided to try something different. I selected a few packages of appropriately-sized underpants and told Darren to pick out the ones he wanted.

He jumped for the hot pink/floral pack without a second’s hesitation, deliberated for awhile, and then chose a package of blue helicopter-themed pants as well. We put the rest back on the rack.

“Do you like these undies?” I asked as we headed to the cashier.

“Yes!” Darren beamed. “Kids like pink.”

“It’s a fun color,” I agreed. “Do you have a favorite color, Darren?”

“Yep,” he replied. “Pink. And blue. And green. And orange. And white. And yellow. …actually, Mom, I mostly just like playing.”

Great, great answer.

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Written by GRSeim

February 27, 2012 at 11:02 pm

Do not break the children.

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“Come down from the tree now,” the heavily-tattooed mother called. “It is time to go home.”

“QUESTION AUTHORITY!” her five year old roared back at her, clinging resolutely to the surrounding branches.

My friend and I exchanged irritated glances, and then grinned.

After all, we are asking for it.

Written by GRSeim

February 25, 2012 at 8:22 am

Break a leg

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1. I found a really “me” sort of necklace at the farmer’s market last weekend. I don’t run across jewelry that fits my personality every day, so…I’m excited.

2. Thinking about growing my hair out…or cutting it. Definitely one or the other, though. Hm.

3. I’m on my way to take/fail another math test, and the only number I can think of right now is 300, because that’s how much the woman at the clinic said it would cost to have a highly suspicious-looking mole removed and tested. Melanoma runs in my family and we’ve lost a few relatives to it, so I will find a way to come up with the money, but be prepared for a major overreaction the next time I hear someone say that people who live in poverty do so by choice out of laziness. Newt Gingrich would cry like a pallid, pudgy, demon-possessed baby if he had to spend a day in my shoes. I work damn hard, and I’ve accomplished nothing for it. If I’d had access to birth control and/or childcare and basic health care, though, I would have graduated two years ago.

And for the record, even as the sole caregiver to two kids, relying on herbal remedies and positive thoughts for the majority of my healthcare needs, I have a 3.75 GPA. If I don’t graduate and launch a career as a professional, that will be America’s loss, and America’s fault. I’m giving you my best stuff here, people. Don’t leave me rotting on Pinterest.

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Written by GRSeim

February 22, 2012 at 2:12 am

Mom guilt

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I forgot to feed Darren anything for dinner this evening. We were having a little party to celebrate my dad’s 60th birthday and there was food everywhere; I just assumed that someone had helped him get a bite to eat at some point. The poor baby got all the way to bed before realizing that he’d had nothing to eat.

I feel terrible.

In my defense, it doesn’t make much of a difference if I spend my day waiting on him hand and foot. He won’t eat the food I give him. It doesn’t matter what sort of food I serve, he’ll peck at it and throw the rest away.

I experience this same sort of intense guilt on the rare day when Jon is home and I realize at bedtime that I’ve hardly heard a word Darren has said to me all day because I’ve been soaking the adult conversation in through my pores…but again, on the normal days when Darren and I are left to bounce off of one another for hours on end, I struggle to get a word out of him. I find myself singing loudly, dancing around the house, organizing playdates and zoo trips and ferry rides and days at the beach, trying to get that kid to crack a smile. I have been a nanny for years and was very successful as a caregiver in a nursing home. People tend to like me, and I am at my best in situations that call on my nurturative abilities. Perhaps that’s why it stings so much that I am locked out, unable to nurture and connect with my own child.

Darren and I look quite similar, at least in coloring, but I think that is all we share in common between us. Where I am talkative, he is all inside his own head. Where I love culinary adventures, he wants the driest, plainest foods, served in exactly the same way, day after day after day. Don’t get me wrong, he is a delightful person…I think. What I know about him seems delightful. He’s funny, quirky, loves animals and computers and games and oh, especially computer games. He loves Dr. Seuss, almond butter (NOT peanut butter, which is totally different), and his BFF, a funny little Jewish girl who lives in our neighborhood and spends most of her time right now pretending to be the hoppy princess of hopping. He isn’t the least bit antisocial. He will strike up conversations with strangers and instinctively understands what makes people tick. When the BFF’s birthday rolled around this year, Darren and I spent twenty minutes at the fabric store, selecting the exact right shade of purple ribbon and a diamond bead that he insisted we glue to the top of her present. And, yeah, the present really did scream out her name when we finished wrapping and decorating it, and the BFF loved it. I felt almost jealous watching the two of them laugh and play together, though, because it is so easy for her to read him, for the two of them to get along and solve problems and relate.

Meanwhile, I’m still locked out, trapped on the outside.

I just want to know what goes on inside that head.

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Written by GRSeim

February 20, 2012 at 7:52 am

How I keep up with it all

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About once a week, someone puts two and two together and says, “Wait a second. You stay home with your kids, you’re taking classes online, your husband is working and going to school and you still find time to pick up babysitting/dog walking/house cleaning jobs? How do you do it?”

Well. It isn’t pretty. But this is what a typical month around here looks like:

Week 1: PAY DAY!!! MONEY! Happiness! All is right with the world! Screw school, we need to go places, see things, PEOPLE I HAVE MONEY AGAIN!

Week 2: I’m out of groceries, because I spent the last week basically vacationing. And it looks like frat boys have been running my kitchen. Better focus on reality. Holy shit, how much did I spend on coffee last week?! How much money do I have left? How much COFFEE do I have left? I can’t delay my math test any longer, it must happen this week and I won’t make it without coffee. Better start budgeting. Be responsible. Set a good example. Brush the kids’ teeth. Study. Set the table. Pull yourself together!

Week 3: Ok, a much smaller pay check just came in. And who am I kidding, I will never, ever be able to clean this house up by myself with a toddler climbing my leg and a baby permanently affixed to my nipple. I’ll use half of this little paycheck to pay my best friend the cleaner to catch the bathrooms, mopping and other impossible tasks and use the rest for responsible things, like putting gas in the car and diapers…and, obviously, the elixir or life on which I obviously depend.

Week 4: oh my god I’m so depressed. Stacks of clean laundry EVERYWHERE. My kids are addicted to the television because I don’t take them out to do fun, enriching things often enough. I need coffee. I needed sleep a week ago. Thank god for my best friend the cleaner. At least I don’t have to worry about anyone calling CPS/the DOH on me. I really worry too much about keeping the house immaculate. The kids need to play more. They need to be able to make messes, they’re KIDS for Christ’s sake. I should get them some finger paints or moon muck or something awesome sometime soon. Gosh I feel like the worst parent ever. 😦

And it just goes on like that. This has been our pattern for the last four years, actually, with very little variation. 

So, bottom line…I just DO it. There is no trick to it, it is just as bad as it sounds like it would be. My husband has lost weight and added some color to his vocabulary over the last four years, I have gained weight and started developing wrinkles. We see very little of our friends and extended family. It is hard work, but it is deeply important and personally meaningful work and that is what makes it worthwhile.

Written by GRSeim

February 19, 2012 at 6:57 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,

Jean Arp

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Jean Arp was a German-French artist who lived from 1886-1966. He was hugely influential and quite popular in his lifetime. His popularity has since declined.

Arp’s work focused on recreating natural shapes and forms, which Arp saw as being mystically tied up with the life force.

“I tried to make my forms grow,” he wrote. “I put my trust in the example of seeds, stars, clouds, plants, animals, men, and finally, in my innermost being.”

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I love his work because it provides us with a unique opportunity to revel in the variety of human forms in a way that is removed from the sexual experience. As simple shapes, disconnected from any sense of personhood or agency, they can be viewed without judgment and appreciated for exactly what they are: lovely, flowing, living things. I wonder if real human bodies would find greater love and acceptance in the world if we took the time to cultivate an appreciation for their unadorned, unaltered, essential forms.

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Written by GRSeim

February 18, 2012 at 6:27 pm

Posted in Uncategorized