Friday, July 28, 2006

So don't look

In a mall full of Victoria's Secret window displays and teenage PDA's, I would think that a baby nursing in the food court would be easily overlooked. But my experience with my own daughter during her first year taught me that people, especially women, will look long and hard for a glimpse of nipple just to be able to give you a dirty look. In corner booths and outside dressing rooms, I have gotten those looks. The ones that seem to ask, "Have you no shame?" and, "Do you have to do that here?" Well the answer was and always will be simple. Yes, I have to feed my baby when she's hungry. And as long as I make some effort to be discreet, with a blanket over my shoulder and a seat in the corner, then the nay-sayers should make an equal effort not to see what they know is coming and yet wait for.

I am a BIG nursing advocate. There have been plenty of articles claiming that it makes a child smarter and healthier, that it cuts down on colic and the chances of obesity later in life. I have heard plenty of arguments against nursing, but none of them have made much sense to me. One girl claimed it was incestuous to make her son suck on her nipple. (Believe me, when your breasts are sore and hot and rock-hard, they cease to be in any way sexual. And if nursing is incestuous, what is the cleaning after a diaper change?) One said she couldn't nurse her second child because it had made her first-born too dependent on her. (Hello! That's motherhood.) I have heard that it makes your breasts sag. (Actually, letting them decrease in size slowly through weaning rather than rapidly by just letting all the milk dry up at once lets the skin shrink back and may help the breasts to not sag.) I've heard that formula-fed babies sleep longer. (That's true, because it takes longer for them to digest what they're not meant to eat in the first place. Same number of nutrients per feeding, but less overall.) And a friend of my mother's once tried to dissuade me from nursing with the argument that it's easier to bottle feed. How is that easier? Measuring and mixing, checking temperatures, fixing up bottles in the middle of the night, packing all those bottles and formula in the diaper bag just to leave the house. How is that any easier than grabbing a couple extra pads and then heading out the door, or rolling over and latching the baby on in the night? You never have to worry about getting all the powder dissolved, the milk is never too hot, and you certainly don't have to sterilize your own nipples. And breastmilk is healthier. Formula companies are constantly trying to come up with a product that is easier to digest, that has the right kinds of fats and nutrients. They try to make their product closer to breastmilk every day, because breastmilk is the best. We all know that a person can't live off of bottled vitamins, no matter how much they get. But formula is the same thing. It's like an adult refusing to eat any food, only supplements. They can take all the vitamins the body needs, in pill form, but they will still be malnourished in the end. Formula fed babies don't test as malnourished, but they're only on formula for a year.

No, I'm not one of those women who advocates breastfeeding children until they're tying their own shoes. But I don't think formula should be used when there's not a need. Women who are able to nurse, who have no illnesses, whose babies aren't allergic, should nurse for the first year. It's possible even for an adoptive mother to nurse, if she uses a breast pump daily to stimulate milk production. Babies should go from breast to cup, with no "supplemental" formula thrown in. Nursing for a short while is better than not at all, but it's a far cry from going the whole route. Bottles can be a great tool in helping the father bond by feeding the baby, but with a breast pump, the only reason to use formula is financial. Nursing takes time that a lot of women need to work during.

I can't imagine looking down at my newborn child, gazing into those eyes, and thinking, "It's only second best for my baby." And I don't know why there's no help to make it that no woman ever has to. Nursing should be covered by the Family Medical Leave Act, as well as any laws that need to be passed, or programs instituted, so that women can afford to stay home to breastfeed. There should be evenly spaced breaks for mothers to pump their milk, and a reasonably private area provided for them to do it in. Maternity leave should be paid and last long enough for a routine to be established for the mother and child. And I'm sure that if we took the tax money that currently goes toward all those cans of formula bought with welfare, we could come up with some sort of incentive program for mothers to stay home and nurse. Obesity, and its complications, cost this country millions of dollars each year. Breastfeeding has been shown to cut obesity rates, both because of the nutritional value of the milk and the fact that no one can force a baby to take all 4 ounces from the breast. Breastfeeding boosts immunities, reducing medical costs. Breastfeeding has been linked to higher intelligence, which often leads to higher paying jobs (and higher taxes) and is therefore better for the economy. Doctors need to actively promote breastfeeding above formula. By encouraging all women who can to nurse their babies, they will also be putting millions of women in the position to pressure policy makers to make it easier to do. And in just a couple generations, we will have smarter and healthier children. We need to make formula feeding more difficult, and breastfeeding easier.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


What goes around comes around. I believe that, and I believe that although it may not relate directly to the recipient, it evens out over all. Call me crazy, but I think that when whites oppress minority races over hundreds of years in the US, it's kind of poetic that soon we will be the minority. And I think that when "gay-panic" is considered by some to be a viable criminal defense, that it's right when it comes back to haunt the straights.

There's a guy in the Castro district of San Francisco complaining of overwhelmingly gay culture being thrust upon his family. Isn't that a little absurd in the gayest part of the gayest town in America? And now the people in P-Town Mass, complaining that they get called "breeders" by gays, and trying to somehow explain the difference between opposing a ban on gay marriage and bigotry. I'd love to hear that argument.
"I think you and your life are wrong and should be banned by law, but I'm not prejudiced or anything." Does that make any sense to anyone, because I really can't see how. There are only three real arguments against gay marriage. 1) It will cost more in spousal benefits. That's true, but much too selfish and outwardly prejudicial to admit for most. 2) My religion says it's evil. That's usually true as well, but we live in a secular nation so it's not really legally relevant. And finally 3) Sexuality is so fragile that if the government in ANY way endorses homosexuality as an acceptable practice, our children will embrace it. That belief, my friends, is brought on by people so homophobic and insecure in their own sexuality that they believe everyone is as close to gay as they are. I believe the answer for these people is some serious soul-searching, not law-passing.

The facts as I see them are that gays are here anyway, no matter what people want. They sometimes marry straight, which eventually drives up the divorce rate, and usually do so out of shame. "If I don't live it, I can't be it." That never works. A gay is a gay is a gay. Gays already have children, either through artificial insemination, surrogacy, or previous straight relationships. So the only thing marriage laws could give these kids is stability. Heaven forbid we legalize THAT. But most of all, when a great number of Americans were opposed to equal rights for blacks, or women, this nation did what was right anyway. We legalized interracial marriage and property laws for single women, and the rights for Jews and Muslims and women and blacks to teach our children. This country is NOT a democracy, with each person holding an equal vote, and it never has been. This country is a republic, where we elect our representatives to do what is best for us, in the hope that with the education and experience they brag about during campaigns, they will do right by us and set into motion laws to protect future generations.

Gays and lesbians, and transgendered people, are our parents, our siblings, our children, and our spouses. We need to stand up for them whether their sex lives makes us sick or not. Because we never know what happens in anyone's bedroom. The happily married elderly couple next door may have leather straps and plastic toys under their bed, and the gays may prefer to just cuddle. No one knows what happens behind closed doors, and it is not anyone's place to judge what they assume happens, or to judge the person by the sex life. It's just not right.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Christmas in July

Tell me, women. What is your shopping dream? No, not the fancy shoes and Tiffany's dream, the real one. The not at all glamorous one. Well I got that dream.

A couple weeks ago Tom was home on shopping day, and he got to see how I spend my household allowance. After dog food, toilet paper, cream rinse, and dish soap, I had enough money for absolutely none of the foods he likes to eat. No red meant, no $10 frozen pizzas. So this week, he took me to Wal-Mart. We bought all of the little household things that cut down the grocery budget. We bought toilet paper and paper towels, toothpaste and shampoo, razor blades and contact solution and those overpriced feminine products we have to buy. We filled two carts and spent way too much. I'm not exactly sure if it was the sad state of the pantry that prompted this shopping spree, or guilt, but I liked it either way. Tom lost his wedding ring and we had to spend almost $300 on a new one, so I guess stocking up on Tide and Snuggle wasn't that bad. The point is that for a few months I won't have to decide between food and toothpaste. This will help since soon I'll be buying sack-lunch supplies and even though I try to shop cheap, it's hard to buy anything an 8 year old will eat cold on a budget.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Not So Bad After All

Thirty has actually been pretty good to me. I think I may like it after all. I read once that Nicolas Cage said there's a certain grace that comes with age. Or something to that affect; it was in Reader's Digest, look it up. Anyway, I think he was right. I got this sensation, almost like an epiphany without the BAM. I can be old if I want to. I can go braless on laundry day (cameras in phones but no technology to avoid hand wash only?!), I can admit that I crochet and make quilts out of baby clothes, I can make that odd grunting sound when I sit down. (Not that I make that sound of course, but I can if I want to.) I don't have to be Young Chuck anymore; I can just be Chuck. It's liberating. I can go to Subway in my slippers (but not my robe, don't worry) and not worry about whether or not the high school kid in the booth thinks I'm trailer trash. Maybe milf isn't a way of saying 'hot for her age', but rather a way of saying 'hot and confident'. Why do I have such new self-esteem? Two people: Tom and Oprah.

Tom, my husband, gave me the perfect thirtieth birthday gift. Actually a whole box full of them. When we were first married he needed surgery on his shoulder (tore the bicep right off the bone, OUCH) and was in a sling, homebound, for almost 4 months. Having been on the road almost constantly for over 2 years, he got extreme cabin fever and became irritable to a PMS degree. One night he asked me what the hell I was doing with all that yarn so I showed him a simple chain stitch and he started to crochet, about the only thing he could do with only one arm and hand. This year my husband gave me, for my birthday, a twin sized afghan he crocheted me for over a year, from his time at home post-op to the week before I got it. For a big bad trucker-man to crochet a blanket in the back of his Freightliner for a year, it's got to take some real affection. Also in the box, the chick flick I'd liked the ads for (he actually heard me?) and clothes. Yes clothes. Not nighties or push-up bras, but real clothes I loved. I usually wear t-shirts and jeans, so for him to know what feminine clothes wouldn't make me ill shows he really knows me. Even Jame said she would hesitate to buy me these clothes. My husband knows me so well, and still loves me. It's a big ego boost.

Oprah, well she reran a show on dressing thinner. In it was some very useful information on finding the right bra. So I grabbed my sewing tape and measured my ribs. I hadn't been measured since I weaned my daughter seven years ago and was surprised to find that I have lost four inches in that time. The show also mentioned that for every band size difference, there is a one inch cup size difference. So a 34B cup is one inch deeper than a 32B cup. I went from a 36A to a 32C overnight. I found some bras that fit and bought two. Now my boobs (finally) stick out farther than my belly and I look thinner and, well, more buxom. I have always felt self-conscious about my chest. In fact, when I first talked to Tom, over the phone, I described myself as short and thin with my chest on backwards. Being an A cup can be hard. But now I am a C cup, one size bigger than the implants I used to wish for. Maybe I am a milf.

I don't think I'm going to claim 50 like I planned to. I think I'm going to proudly claim 30. I have had some fun getting here, and I have good people to share it with, my family and friends, and I don't think I need to lie one way or the other about it. I'll still dye my grays and slather on wrinkle cream, but I always dyed my hair anyway and the wrinkle cream...well you have to start that young. Maybe thirty really IS the new twenty, but better. Not so much insecurity, not so much fashion. More honesty and self-awareness. My boobs may sag more than they did at twenty, and my roots may be a touch lighter in places, but the drama is toned down and the priorities are straighter. It more than evens out. I think I like thirty.

But don't even ask me to contemplate forty.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

He Did It

Maybe you haven't heard of Kyle MacDonald, but I have. I even let my daughter offer to trade our living room chair to him. But her chair was trumped by Kyle's ultimate goal: a house. She is of course disappointed, but I'm working on that. It is, after all, an unfurnished house. But, childhood heartbreak aside, I am happy for Kyle. I could describe his quest but it's all over if you want to google him so I'll let it go at that. The sad part is, I will never ever have the sort of spontaneous adventure and stardom he has achieved, and that realization is what makes my joy for him bittersweet.

It is my thirtieth birthday. It is also the third year in a row that my father has not called at 6am to wish me a happy birthday, but death does tend to make people blow off traditions that way. So far the birthday has been okay. My brother called yesterday to say he went in on a gift with our mom, and jokingly asked if I was 30, saying it as if it were 60. I told him he's losing his hair. It wasn't until then that he realized that I actually was turning thirty. Maybe that means I don't look it, but more likely it's indicative of my brother's interest in me, or in the math required to add two years to his own age.

They say thirty is the new twenty, but I don't feel twenty, or even thirty. I feel 40. Or at least as I imagine forty to feel like. I feel almost menopausal. I realize that the characters on Friends were in their thirties. I realize that thirty is the minimum age required to play a high school student in any Hollywood project. But I'm more Jill Taylor than Monica Bing. Debra Barone, not Donna Pinciotti. Have I mentioned yet the Hell it is to have a best friend who looks like Donna Pinciotti? Yep, Jame is Donna, and I am Kitty. Not even Midge, Kitty. And for everyone who didn't follow That 70's Show, disregard the last couple of lines. I don't yet know how to make the names turn into little blue links to Google search results. Yeah, I'm too old to work the internet. I can remember when it was just Bill Clinton's promise of a future "information superhighway".
I'd like some comments on this page of mine. So, anyone with a story of a thirtieth birthday meltdown, post it here. I need to take comfort in knowing I'm not alone here. PS- the first person to send me an over-the-hill e-card gets hexed by this old crone.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Fightin' Words

I went out last night, bar-hopped all 2 bars in this tiny little burg, and ran into an old friend. Well, an acquaintance, I guess. She's always really nice to me and seems rather personable but she also seems like the type of woman you don't want to get upset with. You know the type. They fight at the drop of a hat for the tiniest of reasons. We were in a rather crowded room and I was always a bit leery, waiting for someone across the room to shoot a less than happy facial expression in her general direction, or as she may put it "give her a dirty look".

I have never understood people who fight. I can understand being so outraged that you feel moved to physical violence. But some people seem eternally primed to sock some stranger in the mouth. I think I was twelve when I first watched Road House and noticed that the tough-looking girl in the push-up bra did NOT get the hot bouncer in the end, but the smart and natural-looking lady doctor did. Also, all the men who actually seemed to like fighting came across as fumbling idiots while Patrick Swayze remained hot and unflappable. What did I learn from this? Fighting is unfeminine and makes you look dumb.

Maybe I think too much. Fighting words and dirty looks have never had much of an effect on me. If they're coming from someone I don't know then I really don't care what the opinion being expressed is. It's a stranger and their opinion is baseless. If it's a friend of mine, someone whose opinion may actually have some impact, then I'm generally more inclined to try to resolve the conflict. Either way, I don't like pain. Even if I clobbered my opponent (not likely) I would still hurt my knuckles. And probably take at least a couple defensive hits as well. Better to avoid conflict, at least of the physical sort. It causes less bleeding, results in less assault charges, and leads to a much more peaceful night out. Call me slut or cunt or whore, it really doesn't bother me much. They're all just nouns, and not even ones that I feel fit. As Dalton said, Cocksucker is just "two nouns combined to elicit a prescribed response."