Friday, May 31, 2013

Just Say Yes

Second baby, thoughts on. Go:

Cons: Being pregnant. Throwing up everything, even water, for nine months straight. Likely reoccurrence of gestational diabetes. Recovering from birth. PPD. Slim yet slightly increased chance of craniosynostosis. Newborn stage with toddler. Newborn stage with jealous, mommy loving, daddy obsessed toddler. Newborn stage generally. Lack of sleep. Craziness induced by lack of sleep, up to and including believing that my sweet, helpful, kind mother-in-law is trying to "steal" baby from me (see PPD). Maternity leave. Having to do transitions memos. Having to find someone to cover me at work. Reintegrating back into work. Daycare costs. Nursing. Pumping. Less time with Lis. Having to share Lis. Having to share Vor even more. Weight gain. Weight loss. Weight gain. Weight loss.

*Notice I didn't put labor on that list. Yeah, that hurt like a mother, but meh. Labor and delivery really didn't register on the scale of "hard" or "this sucks" or "make it stop" or "OHMYGOD what did you do to me" compared to pregnancy.

Pros: Cuteness. Nice smelling. Squishy. Snugly. Siblings. They don't stay newborns forever. They eventually get past the crazy tantrum hitting me toddler age. Adoption is an adoption, so could avoid pregnancy. Squishy. Snugly. Siblings.

Oh, and this:
I have siblings. They're not close in age, but we've gotten closer over the years. I would hate for Lis to miss out on that. Also, she is supremely jealous of me and Vor and doesn't share well (though they assure me at school that she shares fine), so maybe it will be good for her. Also, she is really cute, so maybe another one would be cute. I love her. Vor loves her.
But every time I think maybe, and that it's getting easier, she stays up all night and screams at us. Or she hits me and pulls out a chunk of my hair. Every time I think maybe, I think of how hard pregnancy was, and how crazy, BATSHITCRAZY I was after she was born. Every time I think maybe, and wouldn't a sibling be nice, she sweetly runs up to me and hugs me, and I think I could just burst open from love of this child, this sweet baby who has come through so much, and I think I can't possibly give up one precious second of my time with her.
Every time I think maybe, I remember my heart being torn into pieces, at her diagnosis, my desperation in the weeks before hand, the terror during the surgery, the ache and hurt and grief afterwards. Still.
Vor wants another child. Not right now. He wants to be open for discuss sometime after she turns two. I am not even open to be open to discussion right now. I can't even describe how dark a place I was in after she was born and on maternity leave. I never, ever had thoughts or harming her or myself. I would have immediately sought help if I had. But, I felt like I would never be happy again. When I finally reached normalcy again, I was whacked with another terrible thing, her surgery, and it really wasn't until Lis turned 1 that I've felt like myself again. It wasn't until she turned 1 that I started caring about me again--putting on real clothes, putting on makeup, taking care of my health. So for, Vor, it's been 1.5 years since we had a baby. For me, it feels like .5.
I don't know. I want to say yes. I want to WANT to say yes. I want to say yes, even if it's delayed, and later yes. But I just don't know that the answer will ever be yes.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Socially Social

When I was a junior in college, someone asked me if I was on Facebook. I'd never heard of it, checked it out, and signed up.

It seems like it used to be just that--just Facebook. Of course, it never really was, even when Facebook was new. There was still livejournal and myspace and so on, but Facebook was so clean, efficient, and uncluttered.

I have seven nieces and nephews. When they got old enough, they joined Facebook. When they were old enough, they were texting. I always interacted with them, so I learned the text speak quickly. Because I was the cool aunt, they told me about the new social media they were joining so that I could join too.

At the time, it was just a way to be able to talk to them, since phone calls were CLEARLY too burdensome and out of the question. It slowly dawned on me that my generation, and certainly people even a few years older, had no clue what was going on. They were all still on Facebook, and thought it was the only thing, or at least the biggest and most important thing out there. Even better, maybe they weren't even on Facebook, because they had just graduated college and missed the wave.

These people are my age. These people are my friends, my family, and even my husband. These people have kids, and they have no idea what the social media world looks like. They never got involved, or they didn't stay involved, or they didn't evolve with it. 

Sure, you know Facebook. Maybe even Twitter. Instagram? Check, though seriously, WHY are we ignoring the advances in technology and trying to return to the Polaroid camera look? Do you know Path? Kik? Skout? Vine? Formspring? Tumblr? The mind boggles at the list I could make.

How about what the Deepnet is and the delightful websites you can find there, if you know what you're doing? Anything is for sale, and it's [almost] fool proof and anonymous.

If you are a parent, and a nontech savvy parent, it's not the way to be right now. The things I see on my docket that kids get into through social media is appalling. The way predators have access to them through these same things is even worse, and it's not a scare tactic. It's real, and I've seen it happen to many, many children on my docket.

It's not hard to brush up though. Obviously, Lis is way too young to worry about social media right now, except what I put out there. However, the approach I've taken (and at this point, it is a deliberate approach rather than an accidental one like it was before) is to join. I'm joining all the social networks that seems to be relevant and generating buzz and interest.  I may not really use them right now, but I get a feel for them and what the problems and benefits may be.

That may not be the approach for you. If you want to be aware, but not in it all, I recommend the following:
***Bonus citation--most of my research was done on these sites, though much is common sense.

From there, those sites will take you to a whole host of other useful places.

For what it's worth, here are the tips that are largely accepted as being the most effective:

1. Denial doesn't work. Pretending the Internet or texting doesn't exist will not work. Denial about how your child would never do XYZ does not work. Denial in the form of "Well, I will wait until he/she asks or until he/she is older" will not work.

2. Engage. Find truly kid friendly networks. They are out there. Have your child join, and then play the games on the website with your child. Social media isn't all bad--it can be used to supplement education, learn digital literacy, learn social skills, and develop and share interests.

3. There are conversations you have to have--be prepared. You need to talk about sharing personal information, what reputation is and how they and other people can influence it, and how the "Golden Rule" applies in Internet Land (if you don't like it/not allowed to it offline, then it's a no-go online). You also need to ask questions--what are they doing online? What networks do they participate in?

4. Limits--they're needed. There needs to be limits for screen time, for certain network time, for texting, for when it is okay to accept friends and followers, what kinds of things can be posted, etc. This is part of the conversation you have to have with your child.

5. Know the rules. Know CIPA and COPPA.  It's illegal for a child to join certain social networks, such as Facebook, before the age of 13.  Do you encourage your child to break the rules at home? No? So why would you let them join Facebook before they are permitted to do so? Know all the rules of the social network your child is on, especially what the ever evolving privacy rules are.

6. Be the adult, and use your common sense. Change passwords. Do searches on a search engine to see what pops up on your child. Then act accordingly. Make good use of the safety features on your computers and other devices that connect to the Internet.

7. Determine the acceptable level of access to technology. Do you have a home computer? Where is it?  If it's in the basement, away from prying eyes, that may not be the best spot. Do you let your kids have a cell phone, or an iPod touch, or another device that connect to the Internet? If so, do they get to keep it with them at all times? I bet you would find some text messages, etc., at ungodly hours of the night. 

8. Determine your search standard. So when do you start looking into your child's email, text messages, social network accounts, etc? When does safety outweigh a child's growing need for privacy? I've seen people approach it in the following three ways: (A) Total access to all accounts and devices, and possession of all passwords.  This is usually accompanied by regular searches. (B) The "trust but verify" method, which usually has some access, but only random spot checks of accounts and devices are done. (C) The "reasonable suspicion" method, which is pretty much hands off, unless and until it looks like there may be a problem, as indicated by grades, behavior, etc.  Then, full access is demanded and all activity is heavily monitored.

It's not going away. If you're not paying attention, you're getting left behind--but your kids aren't. I suggest jumping on the bandwagon in some shape or form.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Social Beings

Sunday resulted in a bit of a breakdown for me. It had been a really long week, made worse by the fact that the Magical Non Sleeping Baby reappeared, and wanted to party for four hours in the middle of the night, and by party I mean scream her fool head off for four unrelenting hours. Night terrors, you know.


I’m also a person who needs some alone time, and If I can’t have that, I at least need quiet nonsocial time, and unfortunately, when your husband’s twin sister comes in town and she lives far away, you get lots of socializing, too much time with said sister in law and mother in law and an over-stimulated toddler who won’t go to sleep or nap or anything. That being said, they are fantastic, and they wanted Lis all the time.  That meant I actually was around Lis less this weekend than I usually am, which in some bizarre way, only aggravated the situation, because the times where she was with me, she was a hellion. Basically, I ended up feeling like a terrible parent for being relieved that Monday was coming and with it, daycare, and when I had the stupidity to open my mouth and say so, Vor promptly reminded me that Lis had spent lots of time with her grandma and her auntie that weekend, so why was I feeling that way, exactly?


Tears, I tell you.  There were lots of them, served with several side dishes of hurt feelings and anger.


Anyways, Monday was supposed to be FANTASTIC. I took the day off from work, I had a massage, a manicure, a pedicure, and a hair cut all lined up, compliments of my husband and a Christmas gifts. I was so excited.


So, of course Lis gets sent home from daycare in the morning, sick. SO much for that day. Sick babies are delightful too—when they’re not snuggling your with their cute sweaty bodies, they are howling in your ears with anger and frustration. I feel awful when she’s sick, so they day was nothing I expected. 
We all know what happens when a kid is sent home sick from daycare, right? RIGHT? Yes, that means Lis is out today too, though she seems fantastic today, all babbling and chatty and taking things (5 blankets, 6 stuffed animals, a large metal mixing bowl, all of her bibs and washcloths, and a scarf) into the closet and making a nest. Surprisingly, she’s been very intent on playing by herself, with limited need for my participation and approval, which is fantastic, since I really need to get work done.


The work? Well, that would be a social media presentation, detailing the various ways and networks and apps and actions your child can get themselves into all kinds of bizarre situations and trouble.  Lest you think that the correct answer is to withdraw from the world into a location that has no kind of wireless or cell service or anything at all (especially given my above noted tendency to need alone time), the answer is actually more engagement. Lots of talking, lots of checking, signing up for all the crazy things kids are doing yourself, and so on [I actually have lots to say on this, so a later post will have to do].


While Lis was napping, I was typing up the conclusion section about being engaged, etc., and I thought about the difference between this weekend and yesterday and today. Lis was bouncing around all weekend, spending lots of time with her grandma, and other family, and her auntie, as she should, since she doesn’t get to see Vor’s sister that often. But when we’re around all that family, although we are all busy socializing with each other and Lis with them, I kind of lose track of Lis. Lis and I operate much better when we are in tune, and spending lots of time together. When other people are there and she is interacting more with them, I seem to go off frequency from her, and then I have problems of frustration, resentment, etc.As much as I love and need the (generally) once a week breaks that Mama Vor provides in the form of a quick overnight (late evening drop off, early morning pick up), extended time like this past week doesn’t work well for our family right now.


It’s partly that, and it’s partly the fact that Lis is pretty high intensity for people other than us to handle right now that resulted in this decision: We are not leaving Lis for a few days and going to NYC. Instead, Vor and I will go down to Brown County (very pretty, mountains [sort of]) by ourselves for a night and rent a cabin, and Lis will arrive the next morning with Grams, and then the three of us will spend the rest of the long weekend together, just being social, quietly, together.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Two Funerals And A Wedding (And A Deployment)

Oh my hell. What a trip.

On Wednesday, a second cousin died. On Thursday, my cousin died. I flew out Saturday, in time to start baby sitting babies, because the second cousin had a child who got married on Saturday.

I babysat twins (TWINS THERE ARE TWO OF THEM) on Sunday while we geared up for my cousin's wake, and went to the wake of my second cousin.

On Monday, I babysat most of the time for the wake for my cousin. I snuck in time to (1) attend my cousin's wake, and (2) attend my second cousin's funeral.

Today is Tuesday, and I'm sitting in the airport with wine, desperate to see my husband and my baby.

My brother had flown in by chance-he has training for his deployment nearby. So the siblings three took the backstage role of general baby wranglers and got to spend some QT with each other.

We got very (VERY) tipsy Monday night, and a good time was had, even if the whole thing was tinged with sadness.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Fuck Cancer

I had a post going. It was taking shape, and I thought it was a good one. But then.

My day was moving along, busy as always, when I stopped for lunch.  I thought of Lis, and then I thought of the twins in her daycare, because that morning, one of them had run up to me and hugged me. Then I thought of my cousin who just had twins. Then I thought of her brother, also my cousin, who is dying from cancer.

He has lung cancer, and he never smoked a day in his life.  He was perfectly fine, healthy, hearty, and hale, but in the space of three hours, he was deathly sick, and within 24 hours, he was told he had a week to live. That was six months ago.

I called my parents. "How is J?" I asked.  "He just popped into my head. Heard anything new?"

Isn't that always how it works? I wish I hadn't called. It was like a psychic moment, I just KNEW as soon as he popped into my head that the answer to this was not going to be good. It wasn't good. He had come home, and not because he was doing okay.

That was yesterday. He was still alive. He died this morning, in his sleep, with his two children snuggled up in his bed with him. I think my heart broke in a way I didn't know was possible.

I found out at 10 am, and I had a HUGE grant presentation and pitch at 11 am.  I went into the office bathroom, cried, fixed my makeup, then marched myself to the presentation.  I stood up there, in front of waaaaay more people than I realized would be there, and had a moment just before it started--Why am I here. This is stupid. It doesn't matter. Don't cry. Don't cry. I pushed it back, and did it. I hope it was enough, because it does matter, even if in that moment I just wanted to tell them to just give us the money already, and I had something more important to be doing.

I busted my ass at work today, clearing the deck so I could be gone Monday and Tuesday for the funeral. I'm leaving Vor and Lis Saturday morning, returning Tuesday night, and I feel panicked, panicked at the thought of leaving her, panicked at the thought of an airplane, panicked at the thought that this can happen to you: when you're only forty years old, you can die from a cancer from a risky behavior you never did.

I just can't get that image of them, curled up with their dad, who wasn't there anymore.