Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

Today is May Day, which in pre-Christian Northern Europe (and beyond) was celebrated as Beltane – one of the most festive and holy days of the year.

I find Paganism and Wiccanism (is that a word?) very appealing in many ways. For one thing I am fascinated by the ways in which our lives are shaped by ancient traditions, rituals and stories in a multitude of ways that we are not even aware of, and rarely think about (except for historians – they think about that stuff all the time – which is very cool). 

For another, something about the narrative of a female-focused (or in some iterations a religion that at least did not view women as the lesser, weaker, or inferior “sex”) religious tradition that was brutally suppressed and supplanted by a male-dominated one, rings true to me on a deep, almost bodily level. I sense resonances of this “truth” everywhere, in my daily life as a mother, wife, daughter and friend, in my complex and often contradictory relationship with nature, history, and capitalism, and perhaps most problematically, but also the most suggestively, within my academic life (for who is Donna Haraway if not a pagan-marxist-feminist-scientist-truthsayer subverting the dominant system from within – she speaks the “truth” to power in order to reveal and expose those who claim that power is truth).  

I understand that it is the nature of oppression and suppression that much of the “original” practice of paganism has been lost (although it was undoubtably diverse to begin with – encompassing many different traditions and beliefs) and that as a consequence much if not all of the tradition has been recreated by its contemporary believers and devotees. And that is as it should be and that is how it is with all religions – they are living things that both shape and are shaped by societies. But I do find much of contemporary Wiccanism and Paganism off-putting. It isn’t even the deeper philosophical and psychological debates that I might have with the practice of “magick” (and that is a topic that I need to explore more deeply within myself before ever even attempting to post about it). It is, I’m ashamed to say it, more about the aesthetic – the fantasy novel, flowing hair, wild woman of the wolves, aesthetic of it all that I can’t truck with. 

Isn’t that terrible? But I can’t deny it – the iconography of the whole “witches” thing just isn’t me. I see the appeal and I’m not dumping on those who love and embrace it, but just as I will never be a gortex-wearing kayaking, mountain, outdoorsy person (although I love the outdoors – in my own way), I will never be a embrace the “goddess within” kind of gal.  And I am of two minds on this shameful secret. On the one hand, I wonder if my aversion might point to some part of my psyche that I’ve sealed off from myself – in my self-identification as a “serious” scholar – in other words, has the inner-critic taken over? On the other hand, part of me just says who gives a f*ck? After all, it’s my spiritual path. And like I said, I have no problem with those who find meaning and beauty in that universe. Plus I truly believe that our lives are more than our intellectual minds – symbolism is important – and if something does not resonate with us on an aesthetic level it is not touching our spiritual self. 

But I do want to renew and explore, in a meaningful way, my spiritual connection to the earth, to history, and to the cycle of life and I also want to share the wonders of ritual and celebrations – of holidays and the seasons – with Buddy. And while I will continue to celebrate Christmas because I love it deeply and it is a part of who I am and where I come from, I am intrigued and drawn to the idea of going “back” to the roots of many of the seasonal holidays that we still celebrate – and the Pagan “Wheel of the Year” seems like an excellent place to begin. 

So this weekend, I will be doing something with Buddy that I did with my mother as a child, we will be making simple May Baskets and picking wild flowers and leaving them on the doorsteps of our neighbors. And perhaps SG and I will find another, more grown-up appropriate way, to celebrate Beltane as well!

In thinking about this topic I tried to find a few links to ubran-modern Wicca and Paganism. I haven’t had a chance to explore further, but here are a few of the many interesting and promising links that I have found:

Ah… and there are many many more. Obviously an area that deserves further study!



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Milk and Teeth

Remember how I wrote last week that I was planning to get serious about weaning because Buddy’s renewed interest in nursing when sick made me realize that it was time? Yeah, well approximately 24 hours after posting Buddy started biting me at the end of every nursing session. Not exactly a bite, more of a pull and a scrape of the teeth, still very painful, as you might imagine. So I’ve tried everything I can think of to get through to him that it is not OK to bite me, and nothing has worked, so my take on it is that he is ready to wean but not sure how to get the comfort he needs from me otherwise. 

It’s been a little bit of a balancing act. Right now we have a nursing avoidance program in effect – I try to stay on my feet and deflect any interest in nursing during non-sleep times – and that seems to be working. If he does insist on nursing we have a one bite (OK , sometimes one on each side) and you’re out policy. This holds true at naps and at bedtime too. So far he has taken it pretty well, which confirms my suspicion that he is ready to stop. And we have also started singing special songs, including “Twinkle twinkle BIG star” and “The etsy bitsy spider” to wind down and get ready for bed. Part of me is a little sad, I thought that it would be a longer, more gentle process, but part of me is relieved because now I don’t feel like I am taking away something he is not ready to let go of just yet.

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What a week. I was sick. Then Buddy got sick. Then I started teaching my new, self-designed, and extremely labor-intensive class on Monday (and SG had to take a break to watch Buddy because fever = no daycare for the poor little guy. Then I had to actually teach class on Wednesday (Monday I just went through the syllabus and called it a day). Yesterday I was so wiped out that after I dropped Buddy off I spent the whole day sleeping. I feel somewhat guilty about that but I honestly don’t think I could have done anything useful anyway.

Today I got back on the horse, cleared a path through the toys in the living room, threw some of the dishes in the dishwasher and did some work on my diss. Here, in no coherent order are some random thoughts and events from my life at the moment:

  • Buddy is going to spend time with his old babysitter tomorrow (yeah!) so that I can get caught up on lesson planning (boo!) and SG can do the taxes (double boo!).
  • Since he’s been sick Buddy has revised his usual wake-up time of 5 or 5:30 am to 4 or 4:30 am. We went through this for a while when we were night-weaning him, and we got through it,  but since he’s been sick he hasn’t been eating as much, so he wakes up and then he wants comfort and he flat-out refuses to go back to sleep. Basically he stands up in his crib and screams and jumps for an hour until it is “time to get up.” (We have a no getting up before 5 am rule – you have to draw the line in the sand somewhere).  I should mention that while we don’t co-sleep, his crib is approximately 5 inches away from my side of the bed – we live in a very small two-bedroom house, and the bedrooms are on separate floors (I use the downstairs one as an office). So it is pretty hard to ignore.
  • The 4 am screaming sessions, combined with his revived interest in nursing (although to be honest he has always loved it), mixed with my feeling like death on a sticke, has brought me to the end of my rope. It is time to wean. We will take it slow and gentle and it can take a couple of months, but it WILL happen before my 40th birthday in May. I. CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE. 
  • I’ve made little or no progress on the Self-Improvement Experiment – we have been in survival mode around here for a week. I’ll pick it up again over the weekend and have a couple of posts about moving forward.
  • On Wednesday a couple of emails went around our department list-serv congratulating two of my colleagues on landing tenure track jobs. While I’m happy for them, it is sort of like twisting the knife. Then yesterday, another friend of mine announced that she was invited to interview for a very prestigious department in the UK. Never mind that because of our family situation SG and I agreed to stay in North America, so I decided not to apply anyway, this person is not even close to being finished and she was INVITED to apply. I know that I can’t compare myself to others and that my turn will come (at least I hope it will) but I’ll admit it – my self-esteem has taken quite a blow this past week.
  • On the plus side I posted to FaceBook that while I was happy for friends that I was down about giving two GREAT interviews and getting NEITHER job and a lot of people responded both intelligently and sympathetically. Also one of my best friends, who teaches in the Bay area, sent me some super fancy Easter chocolates in the mail. I started to cry because it is nice to know that there are people out there who understand and who have my back.

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Nana's Castle

Nana's Castle

We’ve been at Nana and Pappa’s (my parents) for the last few days. It is a great place to be a kid – particularly a grandkid – great toys, an art table, play doh galore and lots of doting attention. Check out the castle sitting on the niche in front of the big picture window!  Now that’s hard to beat.

Plus Buddy got to hang out with his cousins (my nieces) Belle and Zippy (ages 7 and 3 respectively). But there is no internet there and with all the toddler wrangling I had no time to get anything done, so I just tried to relax for a few days and relish the fact that I decided at the last minute NOT to attend the big academic conference in my field this year. I just couldn’t deal with it – especially after both those interviews and then not getting either job. I didn’t want to be away from Buddy that long and I have some time off this week so I need to get ready for teaching and get some writing done on the next chapter. So I unplugged for a few days and just played with the kids and hung out with my parents. SuperGuy enjoyed it too, although his cat allergies make being around my parent’s Persian an ordeal. 

Now we are home and we continue to celebrate Buddy’s second birthday (it’s a week-long celebration). This morning we did all the stuff he likes. We went up to the cupcake place and sat in the kiddy chairs and shared a carrot cupcake with cream cheese frosting and drank water. Then we went over to a local fountain and threw pennies in it. At which point we needed some milk so we walked over to the grocery store and let him push around one of the toy-carts they so thoughtfully provide. Despite his tendency to ram into things (both accidently and on purpose), no cases of wine were destroyed. Finally we went down to the dock and had fish and chips (which is something we do together every other week or so). Now we are home and he is exhausted and sleeping and I think that I’m going to treat myself to a nap as well.

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The story of Geng He and how she fled with her children to Thailand has really struck a chord with me. Her husband, a prominent dissident, has disappeared, probably arrested by the Chinese government with a future in a labor camp and possibly as an involuntary human organ donor. Her story brings up a lot of feelings for me, and brings into stark relief the dilemma between our obligation to our ideals and our obligation, our overriding, undeniable obligation to our children. Before becoming a mother I could understand her actions, but now that I have Buddy I emphasize with her on a whole different emotional level.  I need to process my thoughts and feeling on this story a little more, but it brought into stark relief the question of whether or not I would be able to live up to my political and moral ideals (or I could support my partner doing so) in a situation in which I would have to choose between my convictions and the well being of my child. I am glad I am not faced with such a dilemma, because I know the answer – Buddy would absolutely, positively, always come first. And that is a little scary.

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Buddy has a runny nose and a cough and has been a little off all day – acting tired and wired at the same time. Getting him to sleep tonight was exhausting. It took three tries; holding his hand, saying goodnight, leaving the room. He would fall asleep, wake himself up coughing, call out, and we would start all over again. He finally went down around 9 pm. And I’m exhausted. To bed.

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Yesterday Buddy and I went to the zoo – it is close to our house and we are members so we go fairly often. As always, much time was spent in the elephant house and yard where we watched the elephants eat, pace, and, yes, poop. Buddy is just about to turn two and has a fascination with the potty and poop although he isn’t quite sure how he feels about the whole thing yet. We are taking it slow and talking a lot but not pushing him much until he seems more ready. Here is a transcript of our conversation later that night when I put him to bed.

Buddy: Elephant Poop too!

Me: Yes, elephants poop, giraffes poop, everybody poops.

Buddy: Elephant change diaper?

Me: No, elephants don’t wear diapers – people wear diapers or poop in the potty.

Buddy: (Pause – thinking) Yeah.

Buddy: Elephant in bathroom?

Me: (laughing) maybe! I think the elephant is sleeping now. It’s sleepy time.

Buddy (confidently): Elephant in bathroom.

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