posts tagged with 'pregnancy'

What's a good reason to get pregnant, and where is my flipping camera?

I lost my digital camera somewhere, somewhere in the house. This is maddening, not least because I already spend several hours a day cleaning the house, and now I have to do additional cleaning, moving dressers and beds to see if it fell behind something. The thing about cleaning to find something is you never know when you're going to be done. Because, obviously, duh, you're done when you find it. I know there are mothers in Gaza who are wondering whether all their children will live through the night, and it seems silly for me to cry over a digital camera that lost INSIDE THE HOUSE, but yesterday Elijah sucked on a pacifier for the first time and it was so stinking cute, the first of my babies to ever take a pacifier, and I couldn't record the moment because I couldn't find my camera. At the end of the day I broke down in sobs because I felt like his babyhood is slipping away with no way to record it, and I cried on Dan's shoulder, "I just wanted to take a picture, because he looked so much like a baby, and WE'RE NOT HAVING ANY MORE BABIES!!!!!"

I haven't got my period yet, but put a metal device all up in my uterus and I'll totally act like I have my period.

This week has been very emotional for me. It could just be the cramping bringing on odd associations; it could be that I'm adjusting to this new reality, coming to terms with the fact that being on birth control means that we won't get pregnant unless we really want to, and maybe that means that we won't get pregnant again ever. This would be totally rational. Three kids is enough and all that fits into this house at the moment. Plus I'm tired of being fat and tired. Tell that to my emotions who are not rational and groping for a constant influx of digital photographs as if they're some kind of security blanket.

Insert horribly adorable picture of Elijah here to break up the blog post. I would if I had my camera!

There are plenty of wrong reasons to get pregnant. I could get pregnant because I fear entering into a different life stage that I might fail. I could get pregnant because I don't want to go back into the workforce and I want to have a continuing excuse. I could get pregnant because I have some self identity tied up in raising young babies, and I don't know who I am without an ergo on, or I don't want people to look at my body and think anything other than "that is the result of children." I could get pregnant again because my relationships are failing and I want someone (briefly) to unfailingly love me. I could get pregnant again because PINK TUTUS, I want a shot at pink tutus and burdening a female child with our culture's boat-load of oppressive gender stereotypes.

What would my hair plus Dan's hair look like if it were long??? We'll never know...

These are all wrong reasons to get pregnant. There is only one good reason: If everyone in the family feels like our family isn't complete. If there is a hole in our family, if there is a person-shaped hole in all our hearts, if we all decide that we want it all over again, the time-suck and the sickness and the sharing of parents in favor of sharing our lives with another person, then yes I will do it all over again. Otherwise this IUD is good for 10 years and my fertility probably isn't.

If I birthed my babies ten years in the future I'd have the frequency-emitting tracking tags on our things. In the future parents won't wonder "Where is the camera?" or "Where is the lovey?" The iPhone will send out a pulse and tell us. It will be magical. But unfortunately, I can't live in the future. As I am learning this week, for so many reasons, I CAN NOT LIVE IN THE FUTURE.


6 weeks

Today I am six weeks postpartum. I had a goal of losing all 35lbs of baby weight in six weeks, because my life is built on setting impossible goals and then beating myself up when I'm not a superhero. Suffice it to say I didn't lose 35lbs. But I got within a ten pound range that at least allows me to wear some of my old clothes. Fugly clothes, mom clothes, but not clothes that say MIMI MATERNITY proudly across the tag. Yesterday I put on jeans for the museum, and it was the first time I didn't put on my pants and immediately scream MUFFIN TOP!!!

6 weeks postpartum at the discovery museum

How does one go from maternity sizes to rockin the mom jeans in a matter of weeks? I would like to say something hippy and loving like "Breastfeeding! And holding my babies! And walking outside to take in the presence of the sun!" But the truer story is that losing weight takes real work. Like exercise. Hard sweaty exercise. The kind you can't do pushing a stroller. Here's me in my running clothes yesterday before I forced Dan to watch the kids so I could log a quick two miles.

living the dream

Also it takes going to bed hungry. A lot of going to bed hungry. Because if I go to bed hungry I will post a weight loss the next day, but if I lie in bed thinking about something OTHER than food because my willpower died and I am pleasantly full, God help me in the morning there will be a weight gain on the scale and I will rain down curses on myself and my body and the possibility of having more children ever again.

So whatever. Six weeks. Sarcastic hurray.

Getting in the way of my exercise time, I am working hard on preperations for Easter. In the past month I have spent at least ten hours sewing suits, and that's just for Harvey and Zion; Elijah doesn't have ANYTHING to wear yet. Three days away I'm down to baby's outfit and ties all around, so I can probably acquit myself in five hours or so. That's not including the time it takes to clean the entire house for a massive party and make food for 20 people. That should be a cinch.

still need ties

All this leads me to the inevitable question: What is important? I don't mean generally like "Family is important" because no shit, I spend like EVERY FRIGGIN SECOND with them. But within the scope of housewifery, what is important? Do handmade Easter suits really matter? Do handmade DOLL SUITS really matter? Does it matter if it matters to me? If seeing my children in matching suits gives meaning to my life, and seeing them match their dolls brings us all joy in the way that two hours of sleep does not?

I was reading a book about surviving baby stress, and it was all like: See what you can stop doing! Can you order out more for dinner? Can you pay a housecleaner? Can you get other people to watch your children so you can sleep?

The truth is that as soon as I think of a suggestion I immediately shoot it down. We can't order out because eating healthy food is important. We can't have someone else clean the house because that's part of our hospitality and hospitality is important. I can't sleep because sleeping time is sewing time. EVERYTHING IS SO IMPOSSIBLY IMPORTANT!

I can't think of anything except keep being a superhero.


It's been a week since you guys had a baby. How's it going?

My brain feels like it's leaking out my ears. This morning Dan ran around the house asking "Where is the sprinkle cheese? Did we finish the sprinkle cheese?" and I looked at him blankly as my brain tried to make the connection between the phrase "sprinkle cheese" and the object that it might represent. I answered something snippy like, "I don't know what day of the week it is - I have no idea if we finished off the sprinkle cheese."

Later after Dan left for work I found the cheese. We hadn't put it away after dinner and it was ON THE KITCHEN TABLE.

So yeah, things are pretty much going exactly as expected.

Thankfully we have wonderful family and friends in the area, and today Harvey and Zion went to play at one grandma's house while the other grandma came over and held Elijah for over an hour. So I had the biggest blessing I can imagine right now: a quiet hour around my house HANDSFREE! I ran around just putting stuff where it belongs. Having a 3rd baby has given me a newfound pride in how much work I do every day just putting shit away. I don't mean this in a bad way; rather the reverse. It makes me feel important to believe I'm indispensable to the household, at least in this one area that no one but me cares about.

People have asked how the kids are doing with the transition, and I think the answer is also "as expected." Harvey is in love with the baby and excited to help with dressing him or pointing out every time he opens his eyes. At the same time he's thrown off by the disruption to his routine, and unsure how the breakdown of parenting responsibility is changing. He compensates by asking Dan to actively engage him every single second. Can you play legos with me? Can you fight with me? Can you read me TinTin? Dan is very quickly teaching Harvey to read in the hopes that it'll give us five minutes of peace and quiet one day.

Zion also asks to hold Elijah and says very adorably, "I wuv you baby Elijey." At the same time he's taken to coming into our bed in the middle of the night, which I don't mind if that's what he needs, except sometimes I dream I'm trapped inside a submarine. Also Zion has ramped up his being bad on purpose, breaking Harvey's legos and saying "I'm gonna hit you, Harvey" which is more annoying than actually hitting. On the plus side, Zion's doing a good job verbalizing his feelings. He's been saying "I love you Mama" more frequently, and also "I'm mad at you Mama" both of which feel like good emotional awareness.

Physically I am doing well, healing much quicker than I did with my previous two births. If there's a word that characterizes this third birth experience it would be "mercy." I am very much aware that while I have some complaints, postpartum could be SO much worse. My body may be tired and misshapen, but it's not broken.

My brain, on the other hand, is suffering from exhaustion. This evening Dan asked me to steam a squash for soup and I sat there looking at the vegetable for over a minute thinking: how do I cook these things again? I'm supposed to cut them up, right? But I don't think we eat the skin on this food, and if I cut it up the skin will still be on. There must be some way to make the skin come off... nothing... still coming up with nothing... have I ever cooked a squash before? Oh, I know! A peeler!

So we seem to be making it through somehow. Baby Elijah is a delight. And now there's soup in the fridge.


pregnancy baskets

The nice thing about baskets is that they come together rather quickly. It's an intense coming together, yes, with a focus-filled half hour of needing to get the bottom finished before all the wet bits get dry and you start yelling at your family that you can never get anything DONE around here. Then it's smooth sailing to add more weavers whenever you want, but I usually put them in all in one go because of the set-up cost of filling the sink weighs heavily on my mind. Also because that's the fun part. Then I let the thing dry overnight before doing a final pack and lashing the rim. All in all, each basket takes about 2-3 hours spread over the course of two days. It's a VERY satisfying hobby.

But it's precisely the kind of project that'll be difficult with a new baby, what with the wet things and the specific time constraints and the mess making. So I've been planning ahead to get done all the "important" baskets I need in the next few months before this baby makes an appearance.

First up, I made new easter baskets for the boys.

ready to be filled with... oh crap I guess I have to make presents too

These are the first baskets I made with round bottoms, and the process was surprisingly easy, perhaps even easier than setting up a square basket. My only complaint is that the handle I used stretched the baskets out a bit, making the finished product more oval than circular. Of course, I could have bought the right size handle, as opposed to just using some reed from my stash, but I hate buying stuff. I'd rather dummy something up, even if it's the wrong thing. Anyway, it made the boys excited for Easter.

Gosh, should I make an easter basket for the baby? I didn't even think! Does a two-month-old have anything to put in a basket? (Dan says, No, give it a rest.)

I also make gift baskets for each of my three midwives.

ready to go, alongside the rest of the birth supplies

I filled the baskets with preserves Dan made, and then I stashed the them inside this baby basket in a corner of my bedroom. The baby basket I didn't make... what do you think I am, a genie? But I did get pretty quick at putting together these things.

how can one ever really say thank you for the gift of life?

At one point I posted on facebook: "Does seagrass or flat oval reed better say 'Thank you for encapsulating my placenta?'" In the end, I went with the flat oval reed. Makes the basekt more sturdy that way.

I also made a new basket to hold the boys' trains, since the non-homemade train basket was juuuust a bit too small. I tried a new technique on the bottom to make the thing a bit stronger.

diagonal weave to hold in Thomas

Here's the basket in its new digs, holding trains. It goes next to the big basket I made last summer to hold the tracks.

ignore the stereo cable and the scotch tape on the wall... i do

With the train basket off my list I'm feeling a little complete with making baskets for the moment. If this baby delays longer I'll have to do some sewing or knitting or, i dunno, whittling or something. But I could be persuaded to try a seagrass baby easter basket. Just to see. You never know...


prayer for a stressed out pregnant lady

ED NOTE: This is another heavy-duty post about faith and emotions. I'm a little high strung these days, and I feel like offering my apologies to our readers even as I honor my desire to record my thoughts for posterity. On a ligher note, I PROMISE my next post will be mostly crafting photos. Easter baskets, baby booties and sock monkeys are all on cue. Don't you worry. And now back to the babbling...

It is a hard thing, waiting patiently for a baby to come, for something you want and something you don't want at the same time. I want so very badly for this pregnancy to be over, to be on the recovery side of this horrible joint-eating fatness that has stolen my body for the better part of a year. And of course I want a baby out of this. That was the whole point, after all...

At the same time, there is no part of me that wants to walk through the next phase of child production. I have done it twice now, and my memory has not dulled as much as I might have hoped. There is the pain of course, the universe-encompassing pain. But also the indescribable loss of agency that is so much akin to death. I don't know if anyone else has the experience during childbirth of descending to the gates of Hades, prying open the bars, and plucking a child from its icy depths while screaming "You shall not claim him!" Maybe that's my own variety of mental drama. At the very least, I've heard few people describe the experience as "fun."

In other words, this is a time of waiting for something bad to be over by waiting for something worse to occur. In this I've had a difficult time praying. Not for you — if I promised to pray for you then I've done a good job doing that. But for myself I don't have many words. Lord protect me from the inevitable? Make this not suck so bad? The best I feel I can hope for is that, like my husband and the midwives, God would show up when my water breaks and stand around for a few hours. I have no frame of reference for anyone doing anything more to HELP me.

There is only one prayer that has rung true for me lately, and it's something I never thought I'd have the constitution to repeat. "I love you, Jesus." I heard a pastor say it on the radio years ago, and I thought: How can you LOVE Jesus? Are you for real? You can be interested in him, sure. You can even try to follow him I guess. But love this person who is so odd and mythical and antiquated? Who are you trying to fool?

And yet this is the only prayer I can say right now that has any ring of truth. Everything is emotional and difficult. I am absolute shit at waiting. And yet ... I love you, Jesus.

I love you because you don't make any sense. Because sometimes all you do is love on people and sometimes you yell at them like an overburdened hipster. Because you healed the girl who burned herself with a curling iron, but you didn't heal the father who was dying of cancer. I love you because I don't understand you at all. I love you because I fear you might be nuts.

I love you because sometimes I feel you're present, and other times when I need you you are so very completely absent. I love you because my desperation does not dictate your action. I love you because you're real and alive, because if I made you up in my head you would not act like such a jerk.

I love you because I've said that I'm following you, and yet I have no idea where we're going. Because sometimes it seems like you're a guide without a plan. Or if you do have a plan then it's an insane suicide mission. I love you because if I really admitted where we were going I would turn and run in the other direction. I love you for going there in real life, and for making it look almost but not quite attractive.

I love you because you did not say you would make everything better. I love you because you are not a liar.

I love you because you DO make things better, because you make some things wonderful. Because ordinary interactions with annoying people burst with excitement and life when you ask them to.

I love you because the things you do are not the things I would do.

I love you because I do not understand you.

I love you, Jesus.



What I'm good at

Dan owns a beautiful book called The Homemade Pantry which he takes off the shelf every time he needs to make marshmallows. Alana Chernila, the book's author, includes a little story with each recipe about how she started replacing some pantry staple with her own homemade version, and what that has meant for her family. My favorite vignette in the book is the one titled "Marshmallows, or what we're good at." In this section Alana describes her family's first camping trip:

I brought home-made marshmallows and graham crackers for our little fire. The marshmallows charred and smooshed, the chocolate melted just right, the graham crackers crunched, and we were all happy....

The next morning, as we started to break down our tent, the sky opened up with the most torrential and driving rain I have ever experienced. I had to face the truth: I had carefully packed my misshapen homemade marshmallows and cinnamon graham crackers, but had neglected to bring a single raincoat.

I was thinking of this story this evening, though I'm not making marshmallows. That's not what I'M good at! Instead, I'm happy to report that the felt-board advent calendar is all freshened up and ready for next year. I repaired the Magi's star and replaced Gabriel's halo. Then after reprinting all the scriptural readings (some got lost over the course of December) I sewed three new pieces to excite the boys imaginations. I made a crown to go on Mary's tummy during her pregnancy, a second owl to sit atop the stable, and a sheep dog to guard the sheep while the shepherds run to find the Christ child.

When I go into labor some time in the next few weeks, there won't be any frozen dinners to bring up from the freezer downstairs. I hate eating frozen food, plus my husband is an excellent cook. I don't have play-date distractions lined up for the boys either; I figure I can parent on the fly with a baby in my lap, and there are always chapter books to read if worse comes to worse. But I DO have a drawer ready packed with knitted baby clothes, including a fresh set of booties which I just completed — 3 to a set is my new moto for booties. I also have two new Waldorf dolls ready for the birthday party we're invited to mid-February, and a set of feed-bag baby blocks wrapped and in the closet just in case there's a baby shower I forget about in the next few months. And now there's the advent calendar zipped up in its bag, all ready to go on December 1st just in case I'm a little tired by then.

Dan vetoed me starting the kids' Easter suits before the baby arrived (how can we guess their sizes 4 months out, and shouldn't you wait until you know whether you need a third suit or a dress?) so I'll have to allocate a few hours to sewing after the baby comes. But it's still nice to know some things are done ahead of time. I'm starting baskets tomorrow for the midwives, and if I can knock out three in one week I figure I can get some new Easter baskets for my kids done too while I'm at it.

As long as we have homemade baskets, I have no worries about the spring.

I don't know if this is how normal nesting mothers act, but whatever. At least I know what I'm good at.


due diligence

I need to come up with a new response to the question "When are you due?"

This is a question I hear from strangers every day. I don't think they mean to be rude. They see a pregnant person, they think pregnancy is awesome and intriguing, and they want to be involved in it some way. They ask the only question that is (for whatever reason) socially acceptable to ask a pregnant woman. Well that and "Do you know what you're having?"

The problem is that it's a shitty question. "When are you due?" reduces me to a toaster oven. It equates my relationship with my gestating child to my relationship with my real-estate tax bill. It invites the follow-up reflection, "When am I due? When am I due to do what? Expel an infant from my vagina? Why is that anybody else's business?"

Plus, when I hold my breath and just answer the damn question, the follow up conversation is never any better.

"Really? You have that long to go? I can't believe it!"


"I never would have guessed because you're so big."


"You must look bigger because you're so short / because you're having a boy / having a girl / because you have to carry your other children and they push down on your belly."

Pregnancy is fundamentally disempowering. Not only are you slowly robbed of your physical ability (Dan: "Where is the deodorant?" Me: "It fell on the floor and I didn't pick it up") but you're also robbed of your physical sovereignty. Doctors, friends and strangers poke at your body either literally or figuratively and offer their unsolicited opinions. I know that fat un-pregnant people have to deal with judgment all the time, but they aren't so much forced to HEAR about it.

And when people tell me the size of my body exceeds their expectations, what am I supposed to reply? What is the polite way to respond? Haha! Yes I'm fat, thank you for your observations?

There are the things that I want to reply that are not so polite. Like, How about you tell ME when was the first day of your last period and I'LL make loud comments about the distribution of mass on your body?

But this is not helpful.

Because the truth is, modern society is already a horrible place where strangers have lost the ability to talk to each other. As a rule we try not to relate to the people we share public spaces with. When we have to run errands or entertain our children at museums, we spend our time in atomized bubbles of increasing disconnection. The people around us are not so much people as obstacles we must not bump into.

And then we are tired when we get home but we wonder why we always feel so lonely.

Wouldn't life be more pleasant if strangers could smile at each other? Could start a conversation about the weather and finish with a real connection to another human being?

And yet we have no cultural precedent for connecting in public. So we speak to each other only when we see something so odd, something that inspires such unbearable curiosity that it overwhelms our desire for isolation. Like someone biking in the winter or a 4-year-old wearing a bow tie or a big fat protruding pregnant belly.

For this reason I don't want to turn away. I don't want to end the conversation, or to say all the rude repliques that pop into my head. I want to look into the eyes of my accuser and find some human connection. I want to take the verbal abuse, the disempowerment, the societally sanctioned stripping away of my personal privacy, and turn it into something different. I don't know what exactly, connection I guess. Disarming connection that transforms us all somehow.

I don't know what that might look like. Maybe the next time someone asks me when I'm due I'll just stare penetrating into their eyes and wait for inspiration to strike.

I was thinking about these things today after a typical conversation with a woman at the museum. She asked me when I was due, then interrupted herself by saying, "Yesterday I bet!" Then after she learned how much LONGER I had to go, she launched into a reminiscence of how skinny she was when she was pregnant. "Yeah, everyone says I'm fat" I said.

"It must be because you're so short!"

By the evening, I was determined to have things go differently next time. We went out to dinner in a crowded place where there were plenty of curious strangers around. When I brushed by a table of old men, one of them hollered at me, "Hey lady, did you swallow a watermelon seed?"

I turned towards the speaker and looked deep into his eyes. I confidently uttered the first thing that came into my head.

"No," I told him, "I had sex with my husband and he impregnated me."

The table of men erupted in laughter. Me and the man who asked the question both turned beet red.

Okay, so maybe this connection thing is a work in progress.


no, please, tell me how fat I am, I haven't noticed

Pregnancy briefly puts one in a very odd social position. When I am not with child, my body and my sexuality are private matters. I may gain or lose weight, I may do things with my vagina, but these are not the subjects of polite conversation. Yet when it is clear I am pregnant, strangers suddenly feel free to come up to me and comment on the distribution of fat in my body. They even feel at liberty to palpate it with their hands! And then they suggest what the width of my stomach or the roundness of my ass may indicate vis a vis the gender of my child or the time at which said child might emerge from my nether regions. At church or at the gym or even in the grocery store I have these conversations.

"How many babies you got in there?"

"It must be a girl because you're SO big."

"It looks like that thing's coming out tomorrow!"

My belly has jutted far enough into the public sphere that nothing about my body is now private.

Of course, pregnancy is a temporary condition, and there are worse intrusions that I escape being white and privileged. (If I was a person of color, for example, I might never have an end date for feeling scrutinized in public.) Still, it's hard to not feel a little bit aggrieved, when some stranger asks for the zillionth time whether there's a risk of my water breaking while I'm in this store shopping. Or when the woman in the row behind me at church asks "How far along are you... that's it? You look SO MUCH BIGGER!"

And I prayed very earnestly for that bitch's hump-back, too. Maybe she doesn't remember that, what when there's FATNESS in front of her, demanding to be POINTED OUT.

Of course there's nothing for it. I could stay in the house for the next two months, or I can try to manage my emotions better. It seems a shame that I have to do all the hard work of forgiving, when so few people seem to be able to do the relatively easy work of keeping their opinions to themselves. But I guess that's the burden of motherhood.

Someone's camera phone photo, emailed to me with the caption "BIG memory." Camera phones should be illegal.


too much Christmas spirit, the expensive kind

In the pitch black of yesterday morning, before my children were awake, I bought crafting supplies online while riding an exercise bike in the middle of my living room. JoAnn stores had emailed me that the out-of-stock hair clips I was looking for were suddenly in stock, and this needed immediate dealing with in order to turn out more embroidered hair clips by Christmas. But perusing all the other deals took a little bit of time, and in the end it stretched my work out session to 60 minutes when I had only planned 30. In some ways, this is the life I always dreamed of.

I also enjoy going out each morning to the freezing water tap to give the chickens new water. I like banging the ice off the edges of the waterer, and I like the little coos the chickens make as they greet me. In some ways, THIS is the life I always dreamed of.

I would like to feel calmly that one life enables the other, rather than that two ideal lifestyles are fighting to the death in my head.

I appreciate that technology has made it easier to live a simple life, one where I can spend more time reading to my children and less time taking them to horrible greed-inducing stores where there are TVs playing everywhere. At the same time, I appreciate that technology has merely offered me convenience choices, en-lazying my decision making in turn. So my evaluation of environmental externalities (shipping and the like) as well as budget externalities (just $9 more to get free shipping!) is not improved by the ease and speed with which I can make online transactions.

And though I make a lot of things for Christmas (hair clips on order, weaving coming along, knitting progressing frightfully slowly), my $30 JoAnn order yesterday, on top of what I already spent at JoAnn last month, on top of what I plan to spend on fabric next week, doesn't exactly make me feel like a frugal pioneer.

Okay, so maybe I'm feeling just a mite guilty because Dan pointed out I spent a little extra money these past two months. Okay, like, a thousand extra moneys. And I knew it was true, and I tried to get around it by saying "I'm paying the midwife!" and "Our freshly painted hallway has birds on the wall!" when in reality I know exactly where the money's gone.

Because in reality I was ordering disposable diapers off Amazon just because I was so damn tired of washing four pairs of pants every day. And buying expensive hippy laundry detergent at the grocery store (shame the lack of bargain) because every day I swear I'll get out the lye and make my own laundry soap and every day I clean the kitchen and go to bed early because there are more things to do the next day that require sleeping in the interim. And spending $100 cash over my food budget every month because pineapple and grapes twice a week, though they're horribly expensive and not in season, keep Zion from getting constipated without a daily toddler tantrum brought on by a lecture on the digestive system that sounds like "blah blah blah NO MORE CHEESE!"

In other words, in my life right now there are a lot of physical chores and difficult conversations that I can avoid for the low low cost of $500 a month. It's not sustainable or morally desirable, but given the right combination of hormones and exhaustion I find I'm ready to opt into that convenience.

What this sounds like is a confession with uncertain repentance. Of course I want to go back to my normal frugality, it's probably a virtue and all, but I'm planning to go to the feed store today, and after the feed store comes our monthly trip to the kid crafting cafe Dabblers and the opportunity to spend $15 on a very small lunch. And I'm already feeling rise in my throat the horrible guilt over buying prepared food, mixed with the sweet sweet anticipation of pulled pork.

I have a lot of aspirations for my life. I want to live my values, and to serve God in whatever He's doing. I can't do that well if I give into every temptation to make life easier. Nor can I do it if I'm stressed and overwhelmed and yelling at my kids to leave me alone so I can cut them a day's worth of fruit.

I don't actually know the answer...


sword of Damocles

Last night I had a dream that I was hired as an assistant coach to an elite high-school figure skating team. (This is not such an odd thing to imagine on its own, if you grow up in the sort of town that breeds young girls into world-renown synchronized skaters.)

On the first day of my new position, I uncovered a frightful hazing ritual. Each new recruit, in addition to her regular publicity shots, would be photographed under a giant sword of Damocles of sorts. It was a large paper-mache penis hanging from the rafters in a corner of the dressing room. The poor girl would look up, see the veins and the pubic hair in fee-fi-fo-fum proportions, and she would shiver a bit and mutter, "Ew, gross."

In my dream this was deadly serious, but when I woke up in the morning I remembered the whole thing and had to laugh.

The sword of Damocles (for those for whom this brings up nothing more than a tune from Rocky Horror Picture Show) is a metaphor for a fear or burden that hangs constantly over one's consciousness, keeping one from enjoying the banquet of life that lies infront of him. (Greek context here.)

As an old married women, I no longer feel hanging over my head the fear of the male member. Scheduling worries perhaps, but not the bottomless teenage pit of anxiety that swirls with questions such as: What is this THING? What will it DO? How will it change my body and my personhood and my focus on making it to the national figure skating championships?

I have a different sword of Damocles now, colloquially known as a "due date." This is a day (or a very short portion of one) when everything about my current life will change. I don't know exactly how, but I imagine it will be very much like a prototypical teenage sexual experience, in that some of it will be painful and some of it will be so amazing as to defy description, and some of it will be no big deal to the extend that I'll simultaneously feel emotionally relieved and fear that I've become clinically numb from a psychological perspective.

It will definitely distract me from my synchronized skating.

It is and is not a relief to know the date when the sword will drop.