Friday, February 20, 2009

The Great School Debate

OK so this is what consumes an embarrassing amount of my mental energy these days; what to do about school. Right now is registration time for next year so I am needing to make a decision. I have to remind myself that no decision is permanent and that we can change paths at anytime. In this post when I say "school" I actually mean our local Montessori and when I say "homeschooling" I actually mean unschooling.

I'm so jealous of the people who are sure and confident about which of the two is right for their child. I'm so on the fence its driving me crazy so I'm going to try and talk it out and ask you all to weigh in.

OK lets get the first big issue down; social skills. While I truly think its possible to homeschool children and have them be socially skilled I have actually never met an adult example of this. Now this said, most adult homeschoolers I know were homeschooled for one of two reasons; they lived so rurally it would have taken too long of a bus ride to get to and from school OR they were fundamentalists Christians being sheltered from the sinners. Not exactly great social situations. Calgary has a large and vibrant homeschooling community (10,000 or so students) and about 80% of Lyric's current friends will be homeschooled. We are very busy socially and it was actually difficult to pare down Lyric's bday party guest list to the 24 kids allowed. I dont think alot of the social skills learned at school are valuable anyway. i.e. how to judge people based on their appearance, gender roles, follow the crowd and fit in etc. I like the idea of being more involved in the development of her social skills and know from observation how awful the current playground culture really is. Its shocking. I regularily hear 8 and 9 year old boys yell at girls on the playgroung "Suck my dick" etc. Recent studies show that by age 10 close to half of girls have already done just that. Not the kinda socialization I'm looking for. Any doubters of how awful school playgrounds are should go hang out near one everyday for a week. Its really really sad. And yet I have the lingering fear that if I homeschool my children they will be "socially awkward."
Next thing; education. I, like every mother, want the best education for my child. I worry that a child like Lyric will receive little individual attention/instruction at school. She is calm, quiet, learns easily etc. These are not the children who get the majority of a teacher's energy. I would say in Lyric's current classroom the teacher spends WAY more time managing behavior than educating. I also think there are major gaps in a public education. There are so many useful skills I was never taught but instead learned about the Russian Czar system. I think so much of what is learned at school is forgotten almost immediately because it was not of any interest at the time it was taught. I also want to keep my children's passion for learning alive. I want them to LOVE to learn. However there is a small doubt within me that I can properly educate my own children well enough to keep all doors open to them. I would hate for them to not be properly prepared for university if that's the path they choose.
Next thing; my own life. As a single mom is it really reasonable or desirable to try and be home with my kids for the next 15 yrs?? What about persuing my career in midwifery? Is that easier if they are in school? Can I stand to be around them all the time??
Next thing; extra curricular activities. There are many many extra activities Lyric would like to be involved in. She has asked for lessons in violin, skating, snowboarding, Spanish, gymnastics, skiing etc. ALl this and she is only 3, so many more things to come I am sure. One thing I know for sure I DO NOT want to be is the mom that spends 3 or 4 hours after school everyday shuttlng from one actvity to another. Everything from girl guides, to music lessons, to sports etc. is available as part of the homeschool daytime curriculum in my city. If something werent available, then the "school day" could be a quieter day so that the evening activity could happen.
Hmmmmmm what else......oh I know commercialization. I hate how commercialized school children seem to be. Ok well most children in general but anywhere you have a big crowd of them it multiplies. The children who Lyric meets at school dont seem to really know how to "play". They just act out tv shows. Seriously its weird. They have pre-written plot-lines and they stick to them. They are agressively marketed towards and I dont like what people want to sell to little girls. Ever really looked at the Bratz dolls or similar?? They are awful. On the other hand her friends who do not go to school seem to be capable of much richer play. They are more imaginative and cooperative etc. They suggest new scenarios and compromise on story-lines. Along with commercialization comes the garbage food that she will see more as normal at school. Anyone who spends anytime with me knows I dont shelter my kids from any kinds of food - including prepackaged crap. I just dont want that to become the only accpetable lunch because thats what everyone else eats.
Ok naptime is over and this is long enough for now. I ask you all to weigh in and help me figure out what to do...............

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Bow Chicka Bow Wow

Let's talk about sex.......
I have been involved in several conversations over the past few days about post-partum sex. Some people asked if I thought co-sleeping damaged the sex-life of new parents after reading my last post. My honest answer is a definate NO. The number one thing that make new moms less interested in sex is being too tired to do it. CO-sleeping really does increase the amount of restful sleep you get as a new mom. If you are uncomfortable having sex with baby in the same room or bed it forces you to sneak around and be creative. You go back to having sex in the shower, the living room, the kitchen counter etc. Instead of a crib put an extra double bed in the baby's room and have a "festivities room." There is a new level of excitement, not just doing it the same old way in your bed.
Another reason woman lose interest in sex is dealing with all the physical changes that come with pregnancy and birth. The average post-partum figure is our society's best hidden secret. I honestly had never seen another woman's body who looked like mine a few months after givng birth. My idea of normal is the pictures i saw in the tabloids as I waited in line at Superstore. We have become obsessed ith how quickly celebrities "shed the baby weight." I didnt realize what stretch marks could look like. I didnt consider that skin doesnt just snap back into place. I felt ugly and ashamed by my post-Lyric body. My belly looked kind of like a balloon that had been left on a heat vent. Shrivelled up and wrinkled and slightly rounded. How's that for a visual?? Luckily I stumbled upon the website and it changed me. I got to look at hundreds and hundreds of post-partum bodies. I was shocked. I was normal. I was.......beautiful? Maybe. I want everyone who reads this to check out that site. It's FANTASTIC. If you struggle to feel sexy because of how pregnancy changed your body, spend a half hour a day on the website. Everyday. Until you start to feel different. I haven't posted my own pictures yet but I will. I'm getting close to being brave enough. I look with my daughters and point out how beautiful all the women's different bodies are. You can only say those things so many times before you really start to beleive them. Maybe I will really overshare and post some pics of my belly here. Who wants to see?
Another little known post-partum secret is the newly sensitive g-spot. This is not something I've EVER seen written about so I'm gonna tell you about it. Amongst my friends, those of us who had natural vaginal births the majority of us saw a HUGE change in how "reactive" our g-spots were. Like a little gift from the baby for letting it pass by. My theory (since I haven't been able to find anything to read about it) is that in the process of birthing your cervix and vagina both change shape permanently and this puts your g-spot in a more prominent position. Whatever makes it happen its great!
Now me being who I am I have to put in a plug for home-birth and midwives. I really believe that for me sex got better after each baby and the same is true for many women I know. Others though, who had traumatic hospital births that involved tearing, or worse cutting, forceps or vaccums ended up with painful scar tissue that has ruined their sex life. My midwife was very concerned with keeping me "in-tact" and for that I am soooooooo grateful! She sat at my bedside with a crockpot full of warm oils and rags and massaged and supported all my tissues as I pushed my baby out. She didnt yell and count at me to push but encouraged me to go slowly and according to my urges so that I'd have time to stretch. I had two ten pound babies naturally with no stitches and no painful scar tissue and that alone is reason enough to consider a midwife.
Wow this is not quite the post I set out to write but am going to publish it anyway. Sorry if I've scared any of my readers off!
Tomorrow Renee I'll tell you about the circus.

Monday, February 2, 2009

I'm baaaaaaaack.

Ok so many people have encouraged me this week to take up blogging again even though I was rather lazy about it the first go around. So if you read this - leave a comment and let me know. Also ask me question, give me topics, and tell me what you want to hear about. I have opinions and advice on pretty much every subject so throw it out there.
Today I'd like to ramble a bit about parenting.
Becoming a parent is mindblowing and crazy and nothing you can say can describe it. When I was pregnant with my first I felt my heart crack open and every hurt, every love, every emotion was always right at the surface. It was scary and intense and I didn't know how to cope. Becoming a mother without my mother meant I needed to mourn the loss of her all over again at a deeper and sadder level. For the first time I understood what I had truly lost. What I was to her, what she could have been to my children. I saw how much support other new mothers got from their parents and cried for myself. This took me a year to process and changed who I am. In a good way - eventually.
I decided early on that I would try to parent by instinct and not by research. I figured if you went against your instincts and always looked for answers in books you were screwed. Now this doesnt mean I havent read any parenting books and I have read a million studies on every parenting topic (it just sort of happened ) but I take them all as opinons/ideas and put my instincts first.
One of the major parenting topics of the first year is sleep. Its all consuming if you let it be. Everyone asks you about it. Constantly. I asked myelf during pregnancy where my instincts thought the baby should sleep. Without a doubt, anywhere but next to me in bed felt wrong. (for me) I just couldnt imagine a human baby was supposed to be 20 feet down the hall for half the hours in the day. Turns out research backs up this instinct. Babies who sleep with their mamas breathe better, regulate their temperature better, grow better, and cry less. Also as a committed breastfeeder it made my life MUCH easier to just put my nipple in a baby's mouth and go back to sleep. I can't imagine how tired mothers must be if they get up, walk down the hall, sit up while feeding and then have to take baby back to the crib. Not for me thanks. I also nurse my babies to sleep. Its easy, it works for both of us, feels beautiful, and makes bedtime enjoyable.
BUT around 9 months old with Lyric I started to question all this. Everyone else I knew had babies who slept by themselves for 12 hours a night. Lyric was still in with us nursing a few times a night. They had all done some sleep-training involving babies crying it out alone. They all swore by it. At some point I caved and took all the laundry out of the crib down the hall (it was the best laundry basket ever.) I put Lyric in the crib and let her cry. I stood outside the door crying myself. It is entirely against your instincts to let a baby scream for you and not respond. The next night I left the house while she cried because I couldnt stand it. That night we had a good long talk and BAby DAddy said he thought if I couldn't stand the idea of it then we shouldnt be doing it. We didnt like the idea of teaching our child she couldnt rely on us for 12 hours a night and that she shouldnt communicate her fears and discomforts because they would be ignored. Back in our bed she came. She was just over 3 when she moved out for good. She is still welcome at anytime but almost never comes in. I feel like it was 3 years very well invested. SHe is now a child who has no negative associations with bedtime. She goes to bed and to sleep quickly and easily and on her own. She sleeps 12-13 hours straight every night. I am still friends with people who did early cry-it-out sleep training and for the most part they now have 4 year olds who are worse sleepers than when they were babies. They fight bedtime. They are scared of the dark, of monsters, of other things. They wake most night sand come into their parents rooms and beds. They don't quite know how to fix it and are told it is normal for their age. I know this post comes across as arrogant but it feels very validating to have gone against norms and be judged often for it and have it work out so well. Kaliya is now 18 months old, still nursed to sleep, still co-seeping and I am fine with it. I do look at it as an investment and love that my babies trust me to be there for them day or night.

Ok thats today's thoughts. If you want something more interesting tomorrow please suggest a topic or ask me a question. Have a nice sleep :)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Three going on thirty.

Lyric says to me in the car today out of nowhere
"If you ever can't come home I'll take care of your baby for you."

me:"What do you mean?"

L:"If you died or got lost I would keep Kaliya as my baby and make her happy all the time. Dont worry about your baby."

I was so caught offguard that all I said was "Thank you." What a deep- thinking little soul I have. And one lucky little baby.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Brain Explosions

It is crazy what three days can do in a baby's life. Kaliya has learned the following new tricks in the last 3 days:

*say "Hi"

*wave bye bye

*sign "more"

*sign "milk"

*sign "eat"

*sit up from lying down on her own

* almost crawl

* 16 poops in a row on the potty

* tip a cup on her own

* splash in the tub

*walk holding onto fingers

Three days ago I felt like I had a little baby. Today I feel like I better start saving for her grad dress. :(

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Happy Birthing Day to Me.

Well as of yesterday I have been a mommy for exactly 3 years now. Wow. I can remember delivering Lyric into the world like it was yesterday. Perhaps thats becasue L watches her birth story every other day lol. Seriously though March 3rd will always be a proufoundly important day to me. The day I became mommy. I think it strange that birthdays are not a shared day of celebration for the mother and child. Sadly this thought never even crossed my mind as a daughter and it is too late for me now to honor my own mother on my birthday. If you have a mother, surprise her this year with a flower and a card that says "Happy Birthing Day." I can almost promise you your birthday was profound and transformational for her; especially if you are her oldest or only child. Sometime in the future I have alot to write about what it is like to become a mother without your mother around. There is alot for me to say.
On a related note I highly encourage you to see the documentary "The Business of Being Born." It is great and I love the message that birthing is a transforming experience and not just "one day of your life." See it. Then talk to me about it.

Monday, March 3, 2008