Category Archives: Motherhood

ambivalence

I recently stumbled across one of my most favorite pieces of running writing.  When I was in high school, there was a bit of a running fad that favored fewer miles.  Of course, this was the pre-internet age, but in my teens I was pretty convinced that I was “burned out” and other such nonsense when my times slowed down in 10th / 11th grade.  (Looking back, puberty and (healthy) weight gain had a lot more to do with it.)  In any case, it wasn’t until my junior year of college that I stumbled upon a community of running enthusiasts on the internet on the CoolRunning forums and became convinced of the opposite, that as far as running goes, more is almost always better.  The author of the piece above ran many, many miles and enjoyed the payoff.

The weather was warm enough to run in shorts and short-sleeves yesterday for the first time in, oh, six months?  Longer.  Who knows.  It was wonderful.  I took advantage and ran 8.5 miles, my longest run since before B was born.  It felt great, though I’m sore today.  I need to drag myself out for a shorter run this morning sometime soon before the rain starts again.

We’ve settled on a school for L.  We’re going to send her to a French immersion Kindergarten.  I have mixed feelings about this.  I wish we were living slightly farther North, in a better school district, but for a wide variety of reasons the cards did not fall that way.  We’ll re-evaluate the long-term path after next year.  You might wonder, why French?  Well, there are two French immersion schools near us and none in any other language.  I think there is a value in knowing any second language, regardless of what it is.  I also think that L is precocious and this will ensure she is challenged.  Hopefully, she won’t be TOO challenged.  Both B and I feel ambivalent about the whole thing, in contrast to how we feel about the preschool, which we love.  But we’ll give it a try.

swimming

L graduated from level 1 of swim lessons.  It’s been a long road, and I’m frankly just delighted.  It seems like a small thing, and she was beginning to tower over the other kids in her class.  It had just become obvious to me that swimming would be a challenge for her.  However, I have derived an enormous amount of joy from swimming and being in the water through the years, from just playing at the pool in the summer to swim team to being confident in deep water at Smith Mountain Lake and pool parties and on and on.  As an adult, I really feel water aerobics and my weekly swim were incredibly important to my mental and physical health, and I met one of my best friends in Seattle at water aerobics class.  Anyway, I’ve watched L gradually gain confidence and comfort in the water, and I see a clear path towards her becoming a confident swimmer over the next several years.  (A path paved with bribes and sparkly swimsuits, no doubt.)  Now, B is getting old enough to start swim lessons!

I myself have been swimming once a week.  I absolutely detest getting in the pool and swimming that first half lap.  It’s just torture!  After that, however, it’s quite pleasurable.  I always preferred breaststroke, but I’ve been swimming freestyle with an eye towards triathlon, and I’ve become so much more comfortable with freestyle.  I even tried some flip turns at my last session.  They went . . . ok.  I ended up with a nose full of water during one of them, and I basically found them exhausting.  But it was kind of fun to realize I can still do one, more or less.

My parents are visiting, and H is out of town.  My loyal readers will know that the latter has caused me a great deal of anxiety in past.  Today, I’m doing fine.  A friend told me to try and celebrate the small achievements, and so I’m going to celebrate how today has gone.  We’ll deal with tomorrow tomorrow.

strife

Watching this made me tear up a little.  A mother and child lost and reunited while Nadal holds the tennis match.

My own little munchkin (the larger one) came home with a bloody lip today, sustained after a fall from her scooter.  The poor little thing takes bodily injuries so seriously, much as I do I suppose, except worse.  She has been this way since she was tiny, so I guess it’s genetic.  It’s hard because getting hurt is part of life.  Her little sister is much less sensitive.  I do think life is a bit harder for sensitive types.

On a side note, I enjoyed watching Streif.  I’m fascinated by downhill ski racing, so naturally, I’ve been interested in this movie for a while.  It’s not perfect – a bit choppy and over-edited in places – but if you’re interested in downhill skiing, it’s a must-watch.

a little rant on biology

I was pondering privilege at the playground today and wondering if there is such a thing as male privilege, and if so what it is.  I concluded that it does exist and is overwhelmingly biological.  If a man wants to have genetic children, he can do so without going through pregnancy or delivery.  I realize that pregnancy affects people differently and that I struggled with it more than most, but still, what an incredible privilege.  My female readers, imagine being able to have a child without facing a C-section or an excruciating vaginal delivery.  Without facing the prospect of throwing up nearly daily for three months.  Imagine being the proud parent of two children without 18 months of weight gain and discomfort or pain and heartburn and acid reflux and so on.  Without having had to interrupt all your interests and hobbies and athletic activites.  I could go on, but you get the point.

Sometimes I ponder what it means to be a woman and whether I’m happy being a woman.  Usually I conclude that I’m not exactly sure what it means to be a woman, but whatever it is, I am very happy being female.  I wouldn’t want to be a man.  Except.  Except for the pregnancy part.  I can see trading genders merely to avoid that problem.

I was pondering today also the recommendation from the AAP that one breastfeed exclusively for six months.  Six months!  I did this with both my children, and I honestly can hardly believe it.  In black and white it seems crazy – that one should be the sole source of nutrition for another human, around the clock, for six months.  It is impossible to do such a thing without major disruption to one’s career and life.  Of course, many women use formula partially or entirely, but the fact remains that our government recommends breastfeeding.  Exclusively.  For six months.  When combined with the standard 12 weeks of maternity leave that is typical for professional women – and the even more meager benefits other women get – it’s crazy.  But I’m not sure it would be better if the government were to say give 6 months paid leave so that women could fulfill the AAP’s recommendation.  While I support more leave in the general sense, I’m not sure I support the government overtly forcing the issue of the six months of exclusive breastfeeding, especially since the evidence to support this (as opposed to some breastfeeding) is rather tenuous.

I realize that there is institutional sexism and various challenges women face, but for me personally, these pale in comparison to biology.  Yes, it was tough being the first female engineer at my company.  It was annoying being the only woman in my group for a decade and often feeling like I represent my entire gender when I open my mouth.  But, this is insignificant compared to the trial of pregnancy, childbirth, and around-the-clock breastfeeding.

sense and sensibility

L had her second soccer practice today.  This time, she was again the other kid, but there were two coaches there.  Two!  I am so amused.

I’m re-reading Sense and Sensibility, and this time through, I’m really struggling with the premise that Marianne, age 16, should fall in love with Colonel Dashwood, age 35, despite his various qualities.  People died younger then, to be sure, and grew up faster.  Life expectancy at the time was less than 40, but this is greatly affected by the fact that perhaps 40% of people died before reaching adulthood.  Also, consider that Colonel Brandon is wealthy, and it’s no unreasonable to suppose he could be expected to reach at least his 50s and perhaps 60 years of age.  Being generous, assuming 60, and scaling the ages by 1.33, one could argue they are equivalently 21 and 47.  Should a 21-year-old consider someone nearing 50?  It is too much for me, even if the elder man is charming and rich.  But, living in poverty in the 1800s would have been a terrible thing, so I guess I would have been willing to put up with a lot to be well-off.  But I don’t find this reality charming or romantic.

I was talking with a (male) friend today at work about how I have a different personality that I show to men and women.  This is due in large part to the fact that I interact with many, many men professionally, whereas most of my friends are women.  Still, even at work, I treat women slightly differently, and I have a different way to trying to form friendships with men.  Do you, fair readers, interact differently with men and women?  I think even now as an old married woman, I am cautious about being too nice or too friendly towards men, lest they get the wrong idea.  It’s the old shyness I’ve carried since childhood about admitting any kind of affection to the opposite sex.