Archive for August, 2007

Loveland Pass (courtesy of Attic Man’s pilgrimage to the Continental Divide)

I’m going through a glum period that I might label a depression if I weren’t sensitive to those people who have real, long-term, systemic, life-crippling depression.  I’m just down in the dumps.

Yesterday the Snapper went for his first full day of daycare and I had a day wide open for writing.  But instead of launching headlong into work I had a slow, deafeningly silent day of halting work that yielded few pages I could be proud of.  Still, I was working, and I have to remind myself that I must work every single day, even if I can only squeeze in an hour or two, or I risk wasting time getting my head back into it, re-reading a long poem that I’ve forgotten in a week’s time, or re-reading my long draft to figure out where I’m going.  I spent a lot of time yesterday doing that getting-reacquainted stuff and it hurt my ability to work efficiently.

So anyway aside from the working woes I just felt like crap: tired, emotional, and totally lacking in care about anyone or anything.  I wish I could say I spent the day wailing about the Snapper’s absence, but mainly I just felt glum.

This morning after a restorative morning nap (all three of us were up with a spectacular midwest thunderstorm in the middle of last night), I decided that although I still felt like crawling into a hole and disappearing I was going to pretend as if I didn’t feel badly and do all the things I would do if I weren’t down in the dumps.  I started with a shower, let the dogs out, and did a load of dishes.  I started a load of laundry and a pot full of collard greens for baby food and after they had steamed cooked a boatload of black beans in their water.  I don’t feel on top of the world exactly but I was able to distract myself for a little while.

Most of the changes in our life are good and aimed at getting us out of the shitty jobs/ paycheck-to-paycheck life so I should be happy, but I think my body and psyche are having a hard time catching up.  This is normal for me, but boy does it blow.

Meanwhile, Attic Man is having a blast at orientation and I am trying my best not to bring him down with my mood (as if I could!).  I haven’t seen him truly happy in years.  Hopefully his upward swing is contagious.


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First pierogi

I got the job, officially.  When flipping through the paperwork I had to bring with me to the pre-hire physical I was reminded that this whole working outside the home deal is going to be a hassle.  But speaking with my mother-in-law, whose post-kid career has her taking care of lots of people less physically or mentally capable than her, and hearing her urge me to read Matthew 25 again, reminds me of how grateful I am that it’s at least a job that will mean something and will not just be another round of me cheerfully helping someone else make even more dough.

Home projects: Debabyification continues with the CDs moved to wallets and jewel cases stored in the basement.  With alphabetization, two days.  I keep telling myself that a tidy house makes me work more efficiently (whether or not cleaning the mess actually replaces work time–sometimes just having the mess puts me on edge) but I can’t help but cringe at the time I lost.  We also switched from shower doors (ugh and ugly) to a rod and curtains and got a detachable shower head so we can bathe the dogs again.  Mundane to you, maybe, but for me a major quality-of-life issue, as it makes bathing the Snapper much easier and safer, and also because a snazzy new curtain makes the ugly ancient bathroom look not so bad.

Thinking: Emailing back and forth with another Women for Peace Iowa member on how to create community among very different people in ways that will promote peace locally.  I have some ideas but I feel really out of my depth.  I’m just a white girl who grew up in largely white communities (with some interesting variations, but that’s another story) and I’m not sure how to bring people together artificially (at first) in a way that will stick.

Thinking adoption: When we were in the thick of the adoption process over a year ago we were baby-crazy.  Looking back, we accepted things ethically that we would never accept now, and however much I’d like to think it’s all my newly discovered knowledge I have to admit that it was also baby craziness.  For example, we became suspicious that our agency (or rather the agency they were working with across state) was not providing adequate counseling to the women we were being ‘matched’ with.  I think we were far too willing to let that suspicion fade into the background.  I would have no qualms now making sure that proper counseling (with lots of information about parenting, child support, the psychological effects of placing, etc.) was happening before I worked with an agency.  Now unless third-party counseling is employed I’ll always be less than satisfied (and even then who will pay the third party? Babies and money will always be too bound up in ways that end up favoring adoptive parents) but I’m not close to ideas for how it could be implemented.  I also would not have accepted our social worker saying things like, “I know you want to encourage her to nurse but just be aware that birthmothers who do that almost never place,” as if we were supposed to just tiptoe around a mother so she wouldn’t change her mind.  It was all about assessing the risk and she was forever reassuring us that a changed mind was rare.  What I’d like to hear NOW is “she won’t really place until after the baby is born.  No one knows what is in a mother’s heart, but what we’ll pray for is that she makes the right decision for her and her baby.”

Regarding the retrospective opinion on not-Boomer’s mother deciding not to place: Here’s the thing.  I do believe that people have incredible reserves, particularly when it comes to their children.  I would like to believe that not-Boomer is doing well.  But I’m also intimately acquainted, through Attic Man’s time as a welfare caseworker in not-Boomer’s mother’s state, that while no child starves on welfare, many (not all–lots of things come into play here) of them are malnourished.  Cash assistance is a pittance, food assistance is a pittance, and until this year WIC didn’t provide for fresh fruits and vegetables (it’s tied to the Farm Bill and subsidies–did you know that?).  I’m not saying that she shouldn’t have placed.  I’m not saying that we would be a better family for not-Boomer than hers because we have more money.  But it’s not as simple as saying that love is enough and as long as he’s with his first mother he’ll be alright.  Most likely he will be alright in some ways and not in others, just as he would be, with other combinations, in our family.  The balance sheet isn’t clear and it isn’t up to us to decide which way the scales tip.

The Snapper has his very first cold and is simultaneously miserable and adorable.

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We found childcare!


Oh, how many places we called, and oh how many of them were full, and OH MY how many of them talked about how they “have ALL the Disney movies!” and “we don’t watch all that much TV…but it’s always on” and “no, I don’t smoke” (cough, hack, wheeze) and “we charge 1 billion dollars for full time, even if your child only comes halftime.”

Finally we found someone that at least sounded good on the phone, and this week made two visits, one scheduled and one pop-in. The schedule one went super-well. M seems to have attitudes about child care that are compatible with ours (zero tolerance on teasing; baby-led feeding and napping; no toy guns/tanks/soldiers in the house; limited TV and movies, and PBS at that; no-pressure potty training; gentle discipline). She was caring for kids during our meeting and handled them very well–she had them busy with coloring in anticipation of our meeting.

The pop-in went even better. When we arrived the television was not on (good sign; she tells the truth) and the older kids were involved in a dominoes game. M was happy to see us and not flustered in the least. We told her that we’d like to go with her and she was thrilled. Then she pulled out a file box and got us started on paperwork (she’s organized!). While we were getting set up she mediated several minor conflicts between the children calmly and with ease. At one point I inquired rather cautiously whether or not she’s ever used a sling. At that she hopped up, clapped her hands and returned with her favorite sling! She explained that the six-month-old that comes in the mornings (opposite the Snapper’s schedule) likes to be held a lot. So that means that when the babies want to be held, she holds them. I saw just one bouncy seat and not one walker.

My only reservation is that the house is not as neat or clean as I would prefer, but on the other hand it looks like it’s cleaned periodically enough to be safe. I’m going to let that particular gripe go and just be happy that we found someone who values the same things we do. And who also has a cat that the Snapper is deliriously in love with.

So here’s how it will go: If I get the schedule I want at work, Friday I will leave the Snap with Attic Man at 2 and return on Saturday morning in time to nurse and take a nap with my baby boy. We’ll share lunch, nurse a bunch more, and I’ll return to work until the next morning. Sunday will be family day. Monday through Thursday will start with morning waketime and a nap, followed by four hours of mid-day day care (with Mama dissertating), followed by afternoon nap time (during which Mama, who now has time to write, can get some housework done), then dinner, evening waketime, bed, and adult time.

I’ve been relying on nap times for writing and it’s just not consistent enough to get any serious work done. Even when I do get a good stretch I’m constantly worrying that I will be midway through a brilliant thought when a sharp cry will interrupt it. Hopefully this little bit of childcare will up my productivity.

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