Monday, February 7, 2011

One fine day

This is what my dining room table looks like right now:
Cake from last night's belated cake celebration for my mama, a.k.a. Abuela, because as far as Augustus is concerned, a birthday is not complete without homemade cake and the appropriate number of candles, which last night meant 73.  Thank heavens we found those looooong sparkler candles that burn a really. long. time.  It takes a minute to light 73 candles!  
A gorgeous lily brought over by Amanda last Thursday for our HAP East Gardening/Seedling day that was for dissection (yes, we were going to sacrifice the lily in the name of earth science) to find the seeds inside, the stamen, the pollen and what not that we never got to because between the making of ladybug catchers and the excitement of dirt/pots/seeds/popsicle stick labels there was no time or energy left over for the sacrificial lily, so she stands tall as a gorgeous part of our table.  
A random striped sock that Augustus wants to wear but he cannot find the mate.
Uneaten cornbread that I made to go with the ribs Ethan smoked yesterday for ya know, Super Bowl Sunday, that no one ate because I was talking on the phone while making it and managed to put a TBS of baking soda in instead of a tsp.  Sigh, it was gross.  And I was so disappointed because cornbread is one of my favorite luxuries in life.
My gorgeous ceramic lion butter dish that you can't really see b/c it is to the left of the cake dish.  
Bottled bbq sauce for the ribs my man smoked. 
Empty orange bamboo bowl that formerly had chips. 
Used blue gingham cloth napkins, courtesy of my MIL, she even monogrammed them.  We love them.
Nature's Gate Colloidal pump lotion (I've heard Nature's Gate is "false" green/organic, but I still like it!)
Random piece of green felt.

That table is a snapshot of my life.  The fabulous, the delicious, the mistakes, the random, the unfinished, the celebratory, the pseudo, the pretentious (and delightfully so!), the sacred masking as the mundane, the authentic, the mess.  
Today as I meandered around on fb I ran across this this, a self-revelatory and funny post on the blog   Write With Spike that is a review of the book Poser: My Life In Twenty-Three Yoga Poses, and a bit of a scathing review at that.  Spike jumps in the fray over the real/media generated "mommy wars"; the SAHM (stay-at-home-moms for the uninitiated) and the FTWM (full time working moms).   I'm torn between my natural curiosity and rubber-necking humanity to join in and my what-people-think-of-me-is-none-of-my-business/I don't have time for this foolishness sensibilities.  But what informs most my reticence is that to me it feels all wrong, the real "war" isn't between mamas, it is within the mamas.   Isn't that what parenthood is all about?  Each decision we make is a decision to make the best choice given the information we have.  Whether it's a financial decision or a personal preference, each mama must decide what will work best for her and her family.  
I'll use my sister as an example.  She could stay home with her daughter Frida full time if she was passionately disposed to.  Her family would definitely make some different financial choices and money would be tight, but theoretically yes they could do it.  But Jeanna doesn't want to do it.  When Frida was a newborn, staying home drove Jeanna crazy (I'd say literally, she suffered from post-partum psychosis) and she couldn't wait to get out and about and then back to work.  She struggled mightily with this decision because I think she thought she should be a stay-at-home mom, especially with me - SAHM extraordinaire, constantly extolling the glory of never leaving the house and proclaiming that frumpy is the new black (a different post altogether) for a sister.  
But Jeanna - who has a MA in Psych - understood that if the mama ain't happy, ain't nooooobody happy, and did what works best for her and her family, she works.  She just so happens to work from 3pm-11pm, so she has the days with her daughter and weekends are sacrosanct family time.  For the first 10 months of Frida's life, between Jeanna and her dh Dave, Frida was always with a parent.  Then at 10 months Frida started staying with us for between 20-35 hours a week, and has been ever since.  We all benefit, as far as I can see.  Frida gets to have extended family time every week w/her cousins and auntie (me), Jeanna gets to work a challenging and fulfilling job that she happens to love, their family has the benefit of a two income household, and I make a little mad money on the side.  

I'm an AP parent, a leader of a local API group, a homeschooling mama and I have a specific philosophy that informs my parenting choices, so does that mean I condemn my sister for not being a SAHM?  Do I believe that I am making a better decision?  Oh hellllllllll no, I do not.  I couldn't do what she is doing, she couldn't do what I am doing, and be happy and joyful and grateful for what we have.  Let me say also that we are a one income family with a blue-collar bread winner, please do not assume I have the "luxury" of staying home because we make a certain amount of money, we don't ;)  We do make decisions that support our life as it is, well, uhh, most of the time we do.  Ahem.  As long as I can stay home, I will.  As long as it benefits our family, I'll do it.  Were our life circumstances to change, I would adjust accordingly, but for now, this arrangement not only fits our family, it is the life that my wildest dreams are made of and I love love love it!  

I read once that women with degrees, not just advanced degrees but even women with BA's, are doing the "feminist movement" a disservice by staying home and raising their children.  That we need to be out in the work force, promoting women's working values and rights.  I didn't sign up for that.  I signed up for the women's movement being about freedom of choice, on every level.  I also signed up for a unified women's movement, one that supports each and every woman's right to be the best mama she can be, however that looks.  I am so uninterested in the depiction of "competimom's" or the idea that mommy and me playdates are all about what brand of stroller you have, who took your baby pictures, whether or not you cloth diaper, how "crunchy" you really are, or if you are hip enough.  
Do I hang out mostly with moms who have a similar mind-set as me?  Why yes I do, thank you very much.  Do I care if you cloth diaper?  Only if you want to and I can give you some of my old Chinese pre-folds, truth be known.  Do I condemn the working mama?  Absolutely not.  Do I idealize staying at home?  Are you kidding me?  I live it, there's no idealization happening on this end, it's all stone cold reality.  Do I look longingly at Jeanna who is always so well put together, going off to her professional job?  Only because she is so well put together, I could take a page out of her book, if you know what I mean.

I know SAHMs, I know WAHMs, I know FTWMs, PTWMs; I know FTWMs who arrange their schedule so that they, with the help of their partner, homeschool their children.  I know mom's who look at me and the feeling I get is that they think I am either a saint or a simpleton, because (in their words) Oh My Goodness but I could never do that!  But really I know they just couldn't imagine doing it because it is not where their passion lies.  I must confess that I look at FTWMs and think the same thing, I could Never Do That.  I would loose my mind!  Probably not, but I would miss out on my passion, which happens to be staying home (or as Ethan says, never staying home) with my family, homeschooling, AP leading, adventuring, and creating.  As Martha would say, it's a good thing.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Other half

1/2 the crew

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Celebrating Abuela