Sunday, October 31, 2010


Long time, no write. I have lots of thoughts, but nothing that I've had time to put in order enough to make worth sharing. So, how about some pictures of our pumpkins?

This was R's first ever pumpkin carving! He did a great job, didn't he?

And, after a rough start, I think mine turned out okay, too.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Man-Bra

One of the books I picked up lately is by Laura Gutman, an Argentine psychotherapist. It´s called, La Maternidad y el Encuentro con la Propia Sombra (Motherhood and the Discovery of One’s Own Shadow.)

She starts with the idea that at birth and for a while after, mother and child are one. Then, she goes on to say that the role of the father is to “support and separate”. In conversation, I’ve called it the “man bra” concept. (If I could find a nursing bra that could pull that off, I’d be all set.)

In conversations about those post-partum weeks, I’ve repeatedly heard, “He said, ´I feel like I’m not doing anything. ` I almost punched him!” and variations on the theme. In an effort to save our male counterparts from physical violence, I thought I’d share Dr. Gutman’s ideas.

According to her, a woman who is properly supported is capable of fulfilling all “maternal” duties. She even says that women don’t actually need a man to help with the baby. (R, this theory applies to newborns and should not be construed to mean that you are off the hook for changing diapers, giving baths, etc. because it takes two. She’s your kid, too.)

Here’s a summary of the role of a newborn’s father:

  1. Facilitate mother-baby bonding . Take care of (or delegate) everything that is not: feeding, cuddling, changing and holding the baby.
  2. Defend mother-baby bonding from the outside world. Guard the nest. Keep everyone who is not absolutely necessary away. Fend off criticism and advice.
  3. Actively encourage introspection. Allow the mother to explore and deal with the emotional upheaval that is childbirth.
  4. Provide. Provide for the mother-baby dyad’s physical needs.
  5. Accept and love the mom. Don’t question how or why she does things. Allow her some space to be a little illogical and love her through it.

These are all pretty self explanatory, but I will just add that number two seems to vary from woman to woman. Some friends have been anxious to show off their new bundles of joy. I, however, wanted to hibernate for about a month. It wasn’t anything against the visitors; I just had this animal instinct to keep everyone away. That time would have been a lot less stressful if I’d been able to anticipate those feelings and had asked R to “guard the nest”.

Okay, now back to what Dr. Gutman has to say. Anyone who is expected to provide that amount of support needs some sources of strength:

  1. His pre-existing emotional stability (that wasn’t bushwhacked by hormones and child birth!)
  2. His workplace, where he retains his identity and routine.
  3. His professional position and prestige. (She separates two and three, but I kind of see them as the same.)
  4. Down time. Reading the paper, watching TV, long showers and all the other things that make us moms want to kick them in the you-know-where.
Source of Strength Number 4 = Eureka!!!

R is a wonderful father. Really. Truly. Wonderful. However, he seems to think he has retained the right to do certain things that just drive me bonkers!

When Ely was about six months old, I left her with R in the bathroom while I went to finish laundry. Within a couple minutes, he came into the laundry room, plopped her down and said, “Please take her. I can’t poop in peace.” My response? An expletive. I hadn't read about Dr. Gutman's ideas on the down time R needs to be such a great dad.

So, fellow madres, I propose making a deal with our beloveds: leisurely poops for services of support and separation. You know what separation is? Girl’s Night Out!!!

In all seriousness, I think it’s worth considering Dr. Gutman’s ideas about what we really need those first weeks and what our "man-bras" need, too, because, afterall, it does take two. I'd be interested to know whether you agree with Dr. Gutman's ideas....

Friday, October 15, 2010

Orgullo Ajeno

There's an expression in Spanish: vergüenza ajena. It means feeling embarassed for someone.

I’d like to use what I think would be the antonym for that expression: orgullo ajeno. I don't know if that is a normal expression or if it's an Ely's Momma-ism. What I'm getting at is feeling pride in something that is not really yours to feel proud about.

Orgullo ajeno is what I feel, along with gratefulness for the miracle that was the rescue, about this whole miner ordeal. I feel proud of the people for following the story for 70 days. (Let's face it, the collective attention span for anyone news piece is usually not that long!) I feel proud of the miners around the country that showed their solidarity. I feel proud of the engineers and teams who figured out how to get ‘er done. I feel proud that the majority of the miners chose to emerge wearing shirts that gave thanks to God and quoted scripture (Psalm 95:4, for those who are curious).

On a colder, more removed level, I feel proud of Chile for exposing the whole ordeal. Some say that it was all a government show. I think the whole situation was too risky to be purposely made a show; and if it looked showy to others, well I think that’s a bargain price to pay for 33 lives. Not to mention that given the choice, I'd take a show over a cover-up any day of the week. I dare say that this if this happened in China, we may not have heard about it until the rescue was successful.

There’s a much smaller story happening in the background here in Chile: The CNTV (National Television Council- a government entity) has "formalized charges” against Club de la Comedia (a show that mixes stand up and sketch comedies) for blasphemous sketches. The sketches are, in my opinion, quite offensive not only because they cross the line of poking fun at major figures of the Christian faith, but also because they make light of rape.

The person who filed the complaint that led to the charges agrees that the sketches would be equally offensive if they were about any other religion, but points out that it is especially unacceptable in a country where 90% of the population is Catholic, but I digress.

What I really want to say here is that, I disapprove of the sketches and had I been watching the show at the time, I surely would have changed the channel and possibly complained to the station.

However, if we’re going to get worked up about anti-Catholic programming, let’s start with shows that demean women and their role in society and decay the moral compass of the country. Let’s start with the meat markets that pass for shows, like Morande y Compania, Pelotón, Rojo, Mekano or the soft porn that distorts expectations for relationships: Infieles, Los Cuarenta, etc. You know, the shows that "every one"watches and people talk about? Garbage in. Garbage out.

(My Goodness, I sound like my father!)

Or are the 50% of us that are women less important than 90% that are Catholic?

Let’s put that aside for a second because I think there is a greater issue here:

"I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend, to the death, your right to say it." –Voltaire

I want to see the same freedom of speech and freedom of press displayed throughout the miracle of the 33 miners applied here. I don't want the government deciding what is too offensive for TV. After all, changing the channel is always an option and public outrage, letter writing and boycotts are much “safer” methods of changing programming.

A popular movement of that sort against the brain-draining programming on national TV would give me lots of orgullo ajeno.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Thirty by Thirty

For the past year, two months and eighteen days, I've been almost exclusively dedicated to a little someone we call Ely. It has been a pleasure, truly. I'd call it the best year, two months and eighteen days of my life, without a doubt. I'm happy for every minute of every day that I'm blessed to be able to stay home with our sweet girl.

However, Ely is growing quickly, as kids do. I can't believe how quickly my time with her has flown. If there were a "slow mo" button on her, I assure you, I would have pushed it a loooooong time ago! Alas, she seems to be maturing by the day.

As Ely becomes more independent, I'm finding time to do things for myself. To be straight, I'm talking about Ely being able to play independently or sit in her chair hugging her stuffed animals, not packing her bag for college or changing her own diaper, for that matter! Even as she weans herself away from me (and I cherish every second of her needing me), I'm reminded of what I've always known: She is not "mine" and has her own path in life, which means that no matter how much I wish she would stay this size or never demand her own space/life, she will eventually. So, I need to figure out where that leaves me, without forgetting to relish every second of now.

I've started to think about about what the future might hold for me, when she needs me less intensely. I have some ideas for what might follow for me professionally, but those need to be "baked" a little bit more before sharing them here. Thinking about the professional future, started to remind me of who I was before Ely joined us. I don't miss that girl at all, but I have to admit, I do miss her body!!!

I set a goal for myself: Drop 30 lbs before I turn 30. It's not all baby weight, in fact, most of it (atleast 20lbs) is "stressful, sedentary job" weight that I put on in the two years before I had Ely. When I'm successful, I'll be around where I was when R and I go married. It took alot of work to get into that wedding dress, but I loved the feeling and I want to give it to myself again. I have eight months to do this. I have plenty of time, a plan, and intermediate goals. No need for weird diet and/or chemical products or pills. Is it weird that I'm psyched about this? (and might I confess that I'm writing about it partially because I'm psyched and partially for accountability??)

In all honesty, I don't feel bad about my body right now. It's not perfect, but it's healthy and it gave me this sweet little one sitting next to me and continues to nourish her. I'm thankful for it and to it. It feels like a nursing mom's body, which is fitting. I'm just ready to feel a little more like a lady. I'm ready to love the way a dress looks on.

So, thirty by thirty, here we come. I could definitely use a "support group" anyone out there have a similar goal? We should chat!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Daddy Dearest...

My dad was away last week visiting his home town, family and best friend. Since I'm used to seeing my parents on Skype almost every day, I really missed him. So, I got to thinking about my dad and my relationship with him...

They say that a woman tends to chose a mate like her father, for better or for worse. Even though, when I was 16 I swore that my father was SO embarassing and would never do such a thing, it seems to have happened.

R, you are better dressed, more organized and handy, by any measure! I'm talking about the deeper qualities that you share like: Your love for disgustingly big hamburgers.

Okaaaay, in all seriousness, Both love their family first. Dad and R reject traditional roles of aloof fathers and embrace their baby girls with acceptance and overflowing love. They've chosen to be involved in their daughters' lives and they've reaped the rewards- deep relationships.

I never realized how blessed I was to have a father that shared the task of parenting with my mother until I got older and compared notes with friends. Along with the countless "thank you"s I owe my dad, the most important one is: Thanks for taking the time to get to know me and thank you for giving me time to get to know you!

If there's one thing my dad was born to do, it's be a dad. I'm just thankful that he was mine.

Stick around for a long, long time, okay?