New Mama Musings

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Doing the Best You Can

“The joys of parents are secret, and so are their griefs and fears.” – Francis Bacon

When I was a child I thought I knew my parents. I knew them well enough, anyway, which is to say I knew them in relation to me. My father was short-tempered, given to explosive rages about things like the tape being misplaced. He was larger than life and not in the good way. My mother was controlling and demanding. If we didn’t do a chore to her satisfaction, she would show us how to do it right and we’d have to do it again. Neither of them showed us much affection.

As my three sisters and I got older and began to realize that some parents were better than others, we reacted in different ways. My oldest sister threw herself into school activities and was rarely home. My second oldest sister cared for me and took on many of the household responsibilities. The third in line rebelled covertly, cursing my parents behind their backs and sometimes standing up to my father, usually with unfortunate results. And me? I was quiet. I often hid in corners of the room, hoping no one would notice me, always listening but rarely offering an opinion.

Well into my twenties I felt a bubbling anger under the surface when I thought about my childhood. The few times my mother was confronted about it, she snapped, “We did the best we could.” I never bought it. My parents were well-educated professionals -- both teachers -- for God’s sake. How could that have been the best they could do? I grew even more angry when I realized that my parents were either unwilling or unable to see the reality I saw.

And then, slowly, in baby steps, I began to let go.

A few years ago my parents sold the home I grew up in to build a more open, lighter, and cozier house than the one I remember from my childhood. It holds no associations for me. When I visit them, I visit them in their house. It was never mine.

Somehow, too, stories I’d heard from my parents about their own upbringing began to sink in. My mother had been the oldest in her family, with five younger brothers. Because she was the only girl, she alone was expected to help with all the housework. My grandmother became an alcoholic and agoraphobe later in life, which probably meant that my mother was responsible for running the entire household. Meanwhile, her father, generous to a fault, gave money and food away to extended family at the expense of his own.

My mother had always seemed cold and ungiving to me as a child, but I began to understand why she may have seemed that way. Maybe she just couldn’t give anymore.

And my father? His own father died when he was very young; his stepfather died when he was a teenager; his beloved older sister died of pneumonia when he was just a toddler. I think that his life must have seemed very much out of his control.

Now as an adult I can see the things my parents gave me instead of the things they didn’t. I am responsible, hardworking, good with money, organized, and independent. And while I may still carry the scars of my childhood in the form of neuroses and insecurities, as an adult I alone am responsible for dealing with them. For I’ve come to believe that my parents did the best they could.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Everyone's A Critic

My husband had two things to say about my previous blog entry: "Please tell me you didn't write that," and "I don't have to think everything you write is brilliant, do I?"

It's nice to know that after nine years we can still be so honest with one another.

Monday, February 14, 2005

O Overalls!

(Sung to the tune of "O Christmas Tree")

O Overalls! O Overalls,
I'm sick of you already.
O Overalls! O Overalls,
I'm sick of you already.
I'm stuck for all eternity
'Tween normal clothes and maternity.
O Overalls! O Overalls,
I'm sick of you already.

O Overalls! O Overalls,
I know this may seem petty.
O Overalls! O Overalls,
I know this may seem petty.
But how you bunch, the way you gape,
Accentuates my shapeless shape.
O Overalls! O Overalls,
I know this may sound petty.

O Overalls! O Overalls,
I'm sick of you already.
O Overalls! O Overalls,
I'm sick of you already.
Your straps that bind and fight with me
When I need to take a pee.
O Overalls! O Overalls,
I'm sick of you already!

Friday, February 11, 2005


I recently became a member of a wonderful organization called Freecycle. To quote from their homepage:
The worldwide Freecycle™ Network is made up of many individual groups across the globe. It's a grassroots movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. Each local group is run by a local volunteer moderator (them's good people). Membership is free.

So basically it's a place to offer up your old junk and get other people's old junk for free. As my husband says, this is dumpster diving with computers.

Now, those of you that know me know "free" is my middle name. (Or it should be. Thanks a lot, Mom and Dad. When am I ever going to be able to say, "Linda -- that's my middle name"?)

But what does this have to do with being a New Mama, you ask?

Yeah, yeah, I'm getting there.

Since joining I have given away several perfectly-good-but-no-longer-needed items and received: enough baby and toddler clothes to keep any baby boy or girl outfitted for years, one baby carrier and one sling, one infant carseat, an almost-full box of nursing pads, a dozen of the cutest little disposable diapers you've ever seen, several baby washcloths, and a swim diaper cover.

Of course, there are the ones that got away. I've been too slow on the draw to receive not one but two cribs, a glider rocker with footstool, a highchair, a bouncy seat, and a baby activity center.

But let's not be greedy. Or impatient. After all, there are a good five more months of freecycling left in this pregnancy.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Alien Encounter

I've been thinking a lot lately about how humbling this whole reproduction thing is. It's such a primal experience; it's bigger than all of us. I mean, I'm fairly used to feeling in control of my body. If I eat well, I feel good. If I don't exercise, it's hello Fatty Fatso.

I realize that I've been lucky enough to avoid diseases that seem to strike some people without reason, so my sense of control is, in fact, a house of cards. Yet until recently that's been my feeling.

But now...there's another person inside of me. Let's pause for a moment to appreciate just how out of my normal realm of experience this is. A few-celled organism latched onto my insides and started growing exponentially. How weird is that?

And things are only going to get weirder, or so I hear. I feel a bit like that poor sap in Alien who thought he'd escaped the alien encounter just fine, was eating dinner with his crewmates, and then WHAM! The creature burst through his chest.

I suppose this is where I should stop to assure my future baby: I do not think you are an alien. You are wanted and loved, and you will not be battling Sigourney Weaver any time soon. But if you are a girl, maybe someday you'll understand what I'm talking about. And if you're a boy, may your future spouse have more rational thoughts than your mother.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Fourteen Weeks

I finally have boobs...but now I have no waist.

It's kind of like that short story by O. Henry.