Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Dressed

(Originally written 9/2017)

Something that I've learned and relearn daily is that a toddler might just do anything. Generally speaking, they're not beholden to the order and restraints that we adults often are in the name of being grown-ups. To this point, I've got a three-year-old who epitomizes a free-spirit , fun-loving, "doing me" energetic, active, and engaged young person.  Although she will eventually fall in line when orders are handed down to her from me or her daddy, she really doesn't like being told what to do and takes pleasure in asserting her continually blossoming capabilities.   This is the reality of the situation day-to-day in my household, and I know I'm not the only one.  In fact, a recent experience with my child that was characterized by all that I have said of her above brought me to a realization about a particular point of discussion that I have witnessed come up from time to time.

I was standing in the hallway one Saturday having just dressed myself in some actual "nice" clothes--not the usual sarong and spaghetti strap top or bandeau-style bra that is typical of my leisurely, around-the-house Hawai'i attire.  I mean, I had on my new jeggings, a cute tunic designed and made by me, and my favorite sandals. My fro was out, and one side was ever so slowly forcing its way out of the hairpin I'd placed there to hold it back. Everything was cool.

My family and I were preparing to go out for dinner, and as I stood there with my head cocked to one side securing an earring, I got a glance up the hallway of my toddler. Her fro was also out--a bit crunchy and dry from having been out in the sun earlier.  She'd run from me screaming with her hands flailing in the air just ten minutes earlier when I attempted to spray it with water and massage in coconut oil. I didn't quite get it done.

The fro was also lopsided.

Her clothes were ok, even though she'd managed to find and adorn herself with the dingiest shirt she could find--one stained with paint from one of her many art sessions. At least it was clean--in the general sense of the term--and had a sweet little tulle ruffle at the bottom. Then there were her shoes.  Despite my efforts to coerce her into wearing her pink, Velcro strap canvas high tops that look nice with the pink pants she had on, she preferred her white light up sandals--the ones that her toes hang over the top of, since they're now one size too small (yes, these should have long been taken to the thrift store or at least hidden away). *

I looked at her in the living room dancing around, threatening to do a headstand, and not giving a care in the world. She felt good, she was free, and she was looking forward to going out for some pho. And so, I, in my "fancy" clothes (that really aren't but can be considered so by comparison), my husband, our eight-month-old-baby, and our three-year-old left to go eat.
 
Freedom Lover


In that moment, though, that moment where I was standing in the hallway, putting on an earring and looking my child over, it hit me that I was that mom.  You may have read commentary or even made remarks yourself about a parent--particularly a mother--who's out looking all cute and/or together, yet their child is standing there looking like "who did it, what for, and why."  I've previously not had much thought on these matters. Now that I've had the experience, I can just say that I get it.  I know how it is or can be. Yeah, there may be times when it can be considered some form of neglect, but I know that there are those times where a mama may have sincerely tried and failed at better organizing the child's appearance. That Saturday wasn't my first experience with it and --given who my oldest child is--it surely won't be my last.  Many a day I have succeeded in getting her dressed and "together" in a manner that I deemed appropriate for a trip to wherever we may have been going.  Some days, though, she's just not feeling it.  We may have the best intentions for our little ones as it pertains to their appearance or any other area. Yet they're often committed to their own agenda, no matter how much it fails to jive with intentions we have for them.  The notion of "pick your battles" comes to mind.

That Saturday I didn't trip.  We went, we ate, and we had a great time.  Crunchy fro and all! And least importantly, nobody we encountered cared whatsoever. (That's probably saying more about the culture in Hawai'i than anything else.)

*I did manage to persuade her out of the too small sandals into some more shoes--some brand new ones that had arrived in the mail the day before.  Yeah, the colors in them further added to the disarray of her overall outfit, but at least her toes weren't scraping the ground!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

These Babies

It's been stated that 2017 is the year of the baby.  I don't doubt it, cause really, what year isn't?  However, I will say that--around the building in which I reside--2016 was something special where baby conception is concerned.  Including me, there were eight women in the building who conceived last year.  Eight! Six out of eight of us met or will meet our new babies this year, while two were fortunate to do so late last year.  

One of the ladies who recently welcomed a new addition is my next door neighbor.  When I say next door, I mean that the entrance to her door is literally 2-3 feet to the right of my own.  The close proximity and the nature of the construction make it to where, if I'm sitting in the front room, I can hear the cries of her baby as they float out of her open windows, into the outside air, then in through my window screens and ajar jalousies.  (side note: I had no idea what a jalousie was until we moved to this place.)

The cries are soft, tiny, and sweet and signify the child's displeasure with whatever is or is not being done in her favor.  They sound just as cute as the tiny little body from which they originate.

Many nights, after she has continued in her unhappiness for several minutes, I hear the neighbors' door open, then there's the recognizable sound of mommy and daddy with stroller bound baby as they emerge from their condo on a mission to push the child all the way to the other end of the walkway, then back. All the way up again, then back.  Up the walkway one more time.  Then back.   It's their strategy for getting the little one to relax and/or fall asleep when they're at a loss for what else to do.  

Occasionally, I witness this fairly routine outing of my neighbors as I am sitting on the sofa trying to rock my own baby--who's just two weeks older than the infant next door-- to sleep.  My youngest is a pretty mellow child who isn't much of a crier.  Instead, she opts for "talking" and yelling out when she requires attention.  And although she doesn't cry or even gripe much at all, she sometimes will take issue with the audacity I have to sit down while rocking and soothing her to sleep.  She likes me up and walking and makes this known by firmly pressing her little few-months-old body against mine and forcefully pressing her feet into my thighs, stiffening her lower limbs with each push.  She's adamant, and those strong little legs are relentless.  Eventually I give in and am up pacing back and forth across the living room floor until her little head relaxes on my shoulder, and she is peacefully at rest.

As my neighbors push and I pace, I laugh to myself at the thought of the hold these little beings have over us, demanding that we extend ourselves to them physically and energetically not only in service of their most basic needs.  They require that we treat them like the little princesses (or princes) they are by, for instance, creating whatever conditions they need in order to be most comfortable as they prepare to carry out the business of sleep. They want and need us there to do for them what they can not do for themselves, even when the task--rather than having to do with the fundamental diaper changing and feeding activities--speaks more to a comforting pleasure.  And, despite being tired and sleep deprived and sore and drowsy and generally exhausted ourselves, we mamas are certainly here for whatever these little wondrous beings need. 💖




Wednesday, February 15, 2017

1-2-17, 7:21 a.m., 7lbs 14 oz

Baby number two was projected to arrive on December 31, 2017, but given that our first child came five days after her due date, I was prepared to have another post-term baby.  The 31st came and went as did most of the 1st. That night at around eight, though, as I lay in bed reading about "late" deliveries, the first contractions began.  They were about ten--sometimes 6 or 8-- minutes apart. When the first one hit, I mentioned it to my husband, then went back to my reading since the pain was minimal and they were not close together.  Fast forward to around 11/11:30 and the contractions were  much closer together. I' m vague on the exact intervals at this point but probably 1 or 2 minute.  Mentally I was still thinking that it was only the beginning and that I had a long/night/day ahead of me--even with contractions coming that close together.
 
Me and my 2-year-old on January 1, doing our usual beach thing. We didn't know that in less than 24 hours the new baby would be here!

By 12:30 am it was pretty intense.  Really intense.  But with our first I'd gone to the hospital too soon and was sent right on back home.  I was not prepared to or willing to go through that again. (And unfortunately my desired home birth didn't come into fruition this time around either. *siiigh*) So, even though the contractions were so close, and the pain was serious, I encouraged my man to go back to bed.  I wanted him and our toddler to get as much sleep as possible.  "Sleep til five, I said.  Looking back on it, though, we should have been on our way at least around 1:00.

So, they slept, and I moaned--even yelled out at times.  The brief moments between each contraction gave me hope.  It was rough.  Pain and pressure.  Pressure, like, I'm-ready-to-push-right-now pressure.  I even felt the need to vomit at one point.  I'd read about this in a book and knew it was significant.  My only inclination, though, was to lie on the couch and moan and yell as needed and try to make it til five.  I just wanted to wait til five.  The main reasons why were trivial, but that was the time I was focused on.  One of the reasons that wasn't so trivial was that I felt that by five I could muster up the energy to get off the couch, get dressed, and make it out the door.  I needed those next few hours to lie down in order to make that happen at my chosen time.

Now.  I'd been discussing with a neighbor of mine the idea of laboring at home as long as possible to avoid some of the issues that might arise at the hospital if I did most of my laboring there.   Although I wanted to consciously adhere to that plan, I believe I did so subconsciously.  If the energy had been there for me to get up and head to the hospital around 1:00, we would have been on our way.  But I just couldn't do it. 

Five came.  My husband got up and got dressed and got our toddler up and dressed as I called out things for him to get/do from the couch.  Then, during one of the very brief breaks between a contraction, I managed to put on a dress, a light sweater, some shoes.  Once that was done, I had to get back on the couch for a long while.  Then, another contraction break came, and we made the effort to get to the car.  On the way I had to take two or three breaks.  Seemed like the contraction were only 30 seconds apart at that point. 

We made it to the car. Somehow it was already after six.

I reclined in the passenger's seat, and we began our journey from the far west side of O'ahu to our chosen hospital in Honolulu.  This is typically a one hour drive without traffic.  With traffic, it could easily take two hours.  Traffic on O'ahu has got to be some of the worst, but thankfully we'd left just early enough to avoid the work crowd going west to east. 

We made it to the hospital about five minutes before seven. All the technicalities were taken care of, and I was ready to PUSH.  I had been ready.  I was asked if I needed an epidural and was told that if I did it needed to be performed right away, because the baby would soon be out.  An epidural was the last thing I wanted (or needed).  My only thought was, "If someone's gonna assist in this delivery, they'd better get on post, cause I'm 'bout to start doing my part."  The baby was already at work. 

By 7:21 she was here! First thing on a Monday morning. If we'd waited another thirty minutes to an hour, I probably would have given birth in the car. Traffic would have been ridiculous by then.

It was fast, to the point, and phenomenal.  And I love how once it's over, the pain disappears just like that.  The general consensus seems to be that all babies after the first come much more quickly or that labor is much shorter.  That was certainly my experience.  With my first, it seemed like it would never end. I'm talking days of contractions and pain. (You may notice that there are three parts to my first birth story.) This second time around it took less that twelve hours from start to finish.  Thank goodness for that!
 
 
 
Images taken shortly after birth.
~~~~
 
 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Honesty

Being direct, blunt, and/or "telling it like it is" should not automatically be equated or confused with being honest.  People will say, "I like her/him because she/he is honest" when what they really mean (in given contexts) is that they like the person because she/he is direct or has no problem expressing things as seen from her/his perspective while sometimes being rude, aggressive, or comical in doing so.  Sometimes not. 

Honesty, though, is something different, and while a person--in their quest to tell it like it is--can be honest, to do so is not an inherent quality or condition of being direct or blunt.

A person's record of being honest or dishonest is often traceable and should be taken into consideration with--if not in place of--their capacity to be direct in speech.

MA

Saturday, February 13, 2016

On Perspectives

The other day I heard a woman describe a family who had lived in her neighborhood at one point in life. She accounted for them by saying something to the effect of:

"They didn't have the best clothes or the nicest things, but they had a lot of love between them."

While I've heard people refer to others in ways similar to this before, hearing it this most recent time brought to my mind something that may have not necessarily stood out to me in the past. Previously, I'd probably just heard such remarks and thought something about the bonds of love. This time, though, I reflected on perspectives.

The thing about perspectives is that they're the conceptions of the person who's giving them. They really have no bearing on those who they might seek to explain, define, or clarify.  It's not that they're true or based in reality on any level. They belong to you and me and us and oftentimes are completely unknown to him and her and them--the "subjects" who such perspectives aim to interpret.

So, a family who--from an outsider's perspective--lacks the best when it comes to clothing and material things, may actually be of the mindset that the material things that they do possess are the best and nicest, since both are essentially relative.  Not everyone has the same ideas of  what is or how things are.  Happiness and contentment are not rigid and unchanging.  They correlate to individual experiences, perceptions, and interpretations of life.  They might also vary between cultures and regions.

Perspectives are wonderful.  They add diversity to our existence, helping to keep things interesting.  They also allow us to feel like we have something to say.  With them we can take a position on matters that may or may not concern or affect us.  However, the world is continuing to turn and life is moving right on along whether or not we have or give them, and in the end it seems like the action of life is what grounds us in reality anyway.

 

Friday, January 29, 2016

One and a Half

So, Noni is 18-months-old today.  

Initially I was going to make a list of eighteen things that I've learned in eighteen months.  Then I decided that to make a list of a few of the most pertinent points would be more within the perimeters of the limited amount of time I have to write in the first place.  Eventually I concluded that despite all that could be said regarding my experiences as a new mother for the past year and a half, nothing  holds more weight than the realization that she and I are both fortunate to have each other, and we are both extremely fortunate to have her father.  

If I were raising her alone, there's no doubt in my mind that I could do it.  I'll even go out on a limb and say that I'd be extremely great at doing so. *goofy smile* 

But more so than anything that can be said about what I've experienced/learned in terms of parenting when it comes to matters such as health, play, elimination communication/potty training,  how socially awkward other parents can be at Library Playtime, etc., I'll say this:   there's nothing like having the support of someone who's there to hand the baby off to while I lie flat on my face, on any accommodating surface, and do ab.so.lute.ly nothing--if only for 3-5 minutes until said baby realizes I'm in exhausted, nothingness bliss and comes to interfere. 

But seriously (although I was very serious previously),  compared to that, I see everything else as just being a part of it all. You give birth, then you live it--figuring things out along the way.  But in terms of a partner who's present,  it's great to have him here to work through the process with, not to mention how exceptional he is as a cook and juice maker.     He hooks us UP!

It's been an eventful and energetic past 18 months, and I'm certain that it'll only get more intense from here!

Them at almost 5 months


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Wordy

(*Note: I started writing this post when Noni was 16-months-old. It took me the longest to get it to the point of wanting to share.  She'll be 18-month-old on Friday, January 29.)

When my family and I visit the local public library to scope out books, we like to look through the newest books first, and lately this has been the collection from which we make our picks.  Book sourcing in this way is very interesting, as it usually leaves us walking up to the check-out counter with books ranging in subject matter anywhere from permaculture to the politics of race and class.  We typically do not discriminate when choosing from the "new books" shelves, and as such, my man recently finished up a seemingly thousand-page book about the life and times of Kanye West--not written by the man himself.  At this point, the both of us have far more information about this person than I'm sure we'd ever hoped to!

One book that I recently picked up from those same shelves is entitled Thirty Million Words: Building a Child's Brain, written by Dana Suskind, MD. 




I was instantly attracted to this book.  Something that I've really been tuned into lately are the ways in which my daughter is learning language and meaning.  It's pretty amazing to witness  her grasp of words, ideas, and concepts, and at nearly 16-months-old (at least when I started this post, remember), she seems to be understanding it all exceptionally well and fast. This isn't coming from a place of vanity just because she is my child.  I'm mostly just in awe and am grateful for the opportunity to witness how she "gets" what is presented--consciously or not--to her. It truly is something to behold.  Those who've had the opportunity to witness it for themselves and who have really paid attention could likely attest to what I'm saying.

In the book shared above, there is a particular excerpt that describes what I know to be true just being present with my daughter on a regular basis and always talking to and around her:  The author writes: 


I began to understand, thanks to the work of many dedicated scientists, that it takes more than the ability to hear sounds for language to develop; it is learning that the sounds have meaning that is critical.  And for that, a young child must live in a world rich with words and words and words. 

This book goes into detail about studies done and theories proved, and while it really all is useful information, it seems to all come down to what's said above. The understanding of words, phrases, and concepts from an early age--from what I've seen in my own child--has a lot to do with exposure. 
Just from being in the presence of people who talk and converse about different subject matter on a regular basis, and, as a result of having so many things pointed out and explained to her, Noni has a serious grasp on words and concepts.  I don't think it's extraordinary as much as I see it being a testament to the power of the mind and the capacity for learning in humans.

One example that I noticed immediately is when she started referencing herself as "I".  Some phrases that she uses often are "I see", "I need", "I want", and "I don't want".  What fascinates me is that we never consciously taught her anything about the pronoun 'I'.  Yet, if I point at an airplane (a word that she says very well, by the way) and ask, "You see?" she responds by saying, "I see". (Adding about ten more of the letter 'e' to the word would be more reflective of what she really says.)   How a child who's just learning to talk knows to say "I see" when questioned in that way is beyond me. I can only attribute it to her paying attention to how her father and I use language. 

Now.  While she does have a vast vocabulary and is developing impressively in the language department, a person who's in our presence and tries talking to her may not hear a single word from her mouth.  Instead, she has this thing of trying to divert their attention away from her by pointing at a random object and making a sound out of her throat indicating to them that they should look that way.  It's pretty peculiar. 

**********

You wanna know the word that's probably her favorite to say???

Outside!

She wakes up saying it, says it throughout the day, and might even say it a time or two after bathing and getting ready for bed. Mind you, I take her outside at least twice a day, but the child can not get enough of the outdoors.   I love it just as much, though, so I guess she's got it honest. :)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...