the nest

the nest

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

now it's time for a rant...

I am by nature an optimistic, forgiving person.  I am inclined to ALWAYS give the benefit of the doubt and I never assume someone has done something hurtful intentionally.  Over the years, this way of being has led to a lovely life filled with many lovely girlfriends (see previous post!).  I'm lucky.  I've surrounded myself by and large with women who, whether they agree with me or not, support my choices in life, particularly as they have related to raising my children.  As kids get older, I think this can sometimes be easier; the choices are wider and more ambiguous and many of them aren't really our choices but our children's.
I'm working on a project related to my work and young mothers.  This has brought be back to a world of reading and researching on mothering infants and babies - even back to pregnancy.  Being immersed back in this world is reminding me how absolutely ridiculous and MEAN women can be to each other when they have made different choices.  It's also reminded me that not all choices ARE equal and maybe that's why some of us devolve into vicious, judgemental, "mean girls" in grown up bodies.
Here comes rant number 1, so if you're not up for it here's your chance to leave...

I keep seeing and hearing obnoxious media stories about women being harrassed about breastfeeding in public.  ENOUGH ALREADY!  Breasts are designed to feed babies. Breastmilk is uniquely designed for not only babies, but for YOUR baby.  Yes there are situations where breastfeeding is not possible, but not as many as you would think.  A great number of women who don't breastfeed may have if they had a number of things:  Accurate information, support to take the time necessary to "learn" how to do it, PATIENCE, healthy diets, a nation that supports families in caring for their very youngest children with paid maternity leave and health professionals who are well trained.
If you weren't able to breastfeed your baby for whatever reason, I'm sorry.  If you chose not to do so and made that choice based on accurate information and made the decision that was best for you and your family, more power to you.  If you didn't breastfeed because you didn't have the support, information and nurturance you need to be successful, shame on the rest of us for not being there.
There is no disputing that Breastmilk is superior to formula.  Study after study after study has established this fact.  Yes, there are times when an alternative has been essential, but breastfeeding is why we have survived as a species as long as we have.  It is a convenient, perfect food for the young of our species.  It nourishes not only the physical, but emotional development of the baby AND the mother.  It bonds women to their children in a unique way and teaches mother's how to read and respond to THEIR child.  There is also a reason that the longer you breastfeed (cumulatively), the lower your risk of breast cancer.  IT'S WHAT THEY ARE FOR.  We cause problems biologically when we mess with nature.
Ultimately, what makes me crazy is not the choices that women and families make about how to feed their babies (really not my business!) but when I hear over and over how it's disgusting or inconvenient or gross to breastfeed.  What if I walked up to someone bottle feeding and said "How can you put that disgusting chemical formula into your baby? How gross ~ it makes me uncomfortable, you should hide that away so I don't have to look at it!"  "Here, cover that thing up," or "The restroom is around the corner, maybe you can do it in private."
These are the things that breastfeeding women hear.  We show breasts (real and artificial) on billboards, in videos and movies, on beaches, EVERYWHERE.  We glorify breasts as sexual objects, but god forbid a woman uses them the way they are designed and we see her breast.
ENOUGH already!  If you see a woman breastfeed and you don't want to see her breast, DON'T LOOK.
If you are a breastfeeding woman and have felt compelled to "hide" either in a private room or under one of those ridiculous "bibs" (I apologize if you use and like them, but they reinforce the idea that there is something wrong going on that should be hidden!), be proud and strong and call me if you need someone to come and fight for you, because I'll be there.  The more we "see" women nursing their babies, the more normal it becomes.  When children see mother's breastfeeding, they don't see "yuck" they see "huh, wonder what's going on?" This can lead to a conversation about how this all works.  That's what women should be doing for each other ~ not gossiping or judging our different choices, but standing up for and defending each other and all of the decisions and choices we make because we are in it together.  Let's make it better for our daughters so they can embrace their amazing bodies and make choices based on facts, not biases.

This is just the beginning.... I have a list of rants in my brain that have been percolating behind my "don't say anything that might hurt someone's feelings or make someone feel bad" filter.  I've decided I won't apologize.  If you don't like it, don't read it.

Monday, March 26, 2012


I love having girlfriends.  One of my favorite things about Facebook and the whole crazy world of social media is that it allows me to easily maintain contact with friends from all the ages of my life.  Some of the friends I most enjoy seeing on FB are ones from kindergarten, many years and thousands of miles from here. There are girlfriends from high school, from college, from graduate school, from the early years of parenting, on up through today.  They all offer me different support and challenges and I LOVE them all!

My kindergarten buddy R. was one of the first friends who stuck up for me... Halloween, I'm a flower, some rotten boy comes along and teases me ~ R. steps in and I feel loved and safe.

The friends from H.S. who I have reconnected with were not the ones I spent the most time with when I was there, but they are the ones I should have spent more time with ~ they are fabulous and funny and smart and I love having glimpses into their lives.

My friend A. from college ~ we double dated together, got drunk together, cried together, celebrated together, defended each other, lived together and taught each other some basic cooking skills, were in each others weddings, and despite distance and times of disconnect, will always be dear friends.

My friend J. from graduate school who was my friend and guide around things like finding a way into being a strong woman who could be a professional, but still be "barefoot and pregnant."  We nurtured each other through the early years when we were parenting our babies in ways that were different from the mainstream.  She was at the birth of two of my three children and we can go months, even years without talking with each other and then when we are together, you'd never know we didn't talk everyday.

As my children have grown and I've been in and out of the work/stay at home world, I've struggled with finding a new bff.  Over the years there have been a number of women who have for a time fit that role, but for various reasons we've lost touch.

My current "besties" are funny, smart, of varying ages, opinions and professions.  What I love about all of them is they love me for better or worse.  They are there for me when I need them and they will always hold my hand when asked.

I wonder who will come into my life next?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

true confessions

Now that I've started writing, I have a lot to say ~ not sure if that's good or not, but I guess it's your choice to read it or not.
I started my grown up life as a Marriage and Family Therapist. I decided rquickly that it wasn't the right job for me. I was like a sponge soaking in people's pain and hate and misery and then I'd go home and squeeze it all over my sweet husband. He would patiently clean up the mess and then we'd move on.
Youth Services was a better fit ~ a balance of time with families and positive youth development work. Thought I just might have found my calling! Then baby number 3 came along and it just didn't work anymore.
After 6 years juggling babies and career, I was diving into being a SAHM (stay at home mom). I think it lasted for 6 months before I was planning my next career.
Fell into a teacher training for Music Together and thought "this will be fun for a few years!"
When I celebrated 10 years of teaching MT, I thought "I HAVE found my calling!"
Until the next week when I started to think, "What's next? I should be doing more. I want to do more."
So then, I apply to the PhD program at UConn where I did my Master's work. Whoo hoo!! Back to academia; I'll be a professor by the time Helen graduates High School!
Only, there were more qualified candidates and my application was rejected. Crap.

I love my work, I love my family, and I'm ridiculously blessed to be able to live the life I live.
Why do I always want more?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

holding your breath

I just saw a post on Facebook that got me thinking about something. The essence of it was that we are raising people, not children. The very job of parenting is to give our children the tools to leave us.
Why does this seem so hard these days? Everywhere you look, people make excuses for their children's bad behavior or poor performance. Many are so quick to blame others whether the others are teachers, coaches, bosses, whoever. They are protected and prodded. We push them when they are not ready for something, but hold their hand when they need us to back away and let them dive in for better or worse.
My husband is a High School Teacher. As long as we have had children in school we have reminded ourselves that we will not allow each other to be "those" parents. But when do you have to be one of those parents? There is a place where the line is crossed and we have to step in to advocate (not excuse or protect) for our little birds. Knowing when they need to advocate for themselves and when they need us to step in can be tricky. We want them to be happy.

Hopefully as they get older, the line gets further away. We don't do them any favors by protecting them from the consequences of their behavior, or the realities of the world. Isn't that how we learn best, by making mistakes and then learning to make different choices? Trying on different persona's until we figure out who we really are?

What about when they do "leave" us? When my son started driving, I felt my heart tighten every time he left the driveway. The news about the black teenager in Florida killed by a neighborhood watch person makes me sick to my stomach. He was walking back from the store with some snacks.
No wonder it becomes easy to hang on tightly, too tightly to them. It's not because we don't trust them, it's because we don't trust the world.
Raising children means giving them the tools to take on the world. If we have done our job well, all we can do is trust them to make the choices that will make it a better place for themselves and others.
It also helps to trust that someone else, God or whoever, is watching out for them too.

Monday, March 19, 2012

It's all about the love...

I've been saying that for years. For a long time I thought that would be the name of an eventual blog. It is the "tag" line for my business. I say it when I'm frustrated with someone, or when I'm delighted with them.
For me, everything comes back to love.

I've been planning this blog for years. What would it be about, why would I do it in the first place, who is it for. I still don't have those answers, but I decided it was time to push my own self out of the nest and get started.
I'm not sleeping lately and am pretty sure that it's because my brain is going through one of its busy phases.
Am I a good mom?
Why can't I ever finish anything?
What am I supposed to be when I grow up?
How am I supposed to change the world?
What are we having for dinner tomorrow?
Should I get hi-lights or try a little red in my hair?
Who really cares?

It all starts with love... I LOVE my family more than anything in the world ~ my kids are growing before my eyes and the decade of pushing them "out of the nest" has begun. I just want to make sure they always know they can come home... for a little while.

I LOVE my work ~ nothing can bring me greater joy than singing and dancing with families and and their children. When a family brings a new baby to class and I am given the gift of holding and dancing with that sweet, delicious bundle, I can't imagine how doing anything else could be as satisfying.

but what's next? is there more? should I be challenging myself?
I first thought that the 3rd decade of my "adult" life would be all about pushing my children out of the nest, but maybe it's really about pushing myself out.