Archive for the ‘jasper’ Category

Walk This Way

June 4, 2009

And so your baby springs to his feet and – oops, wait! down? no! up! go! – toddles toward the flowers – wait! stop! flowers! ooh! – and then – hey! up! – toward you toward you toward you – come here baby! – and your heart swells as he pitches forward, all leg-torque and flushed cheeks, your big precious boy using all the power of his newfound mobility to race to you, to fling his little self…

… right past you, right past you, and then, suddenly – ooh, look, ball! – down he goes. And gets up again, and toddles away, not looking back.

And you are torn between two feelings: a fierce pride in your wee determined lad, who is growing so fast, so very fast, and who will no doubt speed – away from you, alone, strong – into a brilliant future, and, also, a terrible, guilty sadness over the fact that, yes, he is growing so fast, so very fast, and he will one day – too soon – speed away from you. And not look back.

And so you settle on a third feeling, another (is it? yes, it is) shameful feeling: a tiny bit of satisfaction that he stumbles, that he will continue to stumble, now and again, as he reaches for the flowers, the ball, the sky. That he needs you. That he will need you for a very long time.

Not forever, but long enough.

(Is it so wrong to want him to slow down? To want to not let go of his hand?)

To Jasper, On His First Birthday

May 18, 2009

How, my love, did we get from here…


… to here?


It is not possible that it has only been one year. It feels as though you have been in my heart forever, my dirty-faced little monkey boy, my chunkster, my Jib. It feels as though I’ve loved you for an eternity.

I have, and I will.

Happy birthday, little man.

Home Depot Is For Lovers

May 6, 2009


The lesson here: the course of true love never did run smooth. That, and think twice before slipping the tongue to strangers that you meet in the Home Depot interior doors and closet fittings aisle.

Needful Things

April 27, 2009

Jasper came into the world with a bang, in a hulksmash explosion of blood and birthmatter and pain. And when they handed him to me – he, as full and round and alert as a baby many times his age – he reached for me and clung and suckled with the same ferocious determination that had propelled him so explosively from my womb.

He clung to me and suckled and grew and grew and grew. I ached, and bled, pummelled and raw from his insistent thirst. I ached and bled, and loved.

I called him Truffler, because at night he would snort and burrow, seeking out my breast with his nose and mouth, never opening his eyes, never waking, just drinking, sucking, snorfling until he had his fill. In the light of day, eyes open, he would use his hands, grabbing and kneading and pinching and gazing up at me, an adorable little beastie, ravenous and innocent and impossibly, impossibly soft, and I would wonder: how can a creature that brings such pain inspire such tenderness? Why do I not push him away?


I could not push him away. I could no more push him away than I could tear through my ribcage and rip out my heart. And so I pulled him to me, time and again, and exulted in the soft curves of his fat baby legs and his rounded baby belly and his plush baby bum, and smiled through the pain and exhaustion and wished, fervently, that this would never end. I pulled him to me and clung to him and drank in his babyness like a draught, knowing, in my gut, that someday, I would miss this, crave this, yearn for this like the parched soul yearns for cool water. And so I drank it in, in big, greedy gulps, matching his thirst with my own.

Even when the exhaustion became unbearable, I resisted pulling away. Even when he started to bite, I resisted pulling away. I tottered and spun from the exhaustion; my breasts bled from his painful nips: still I perservered, determined to preserve this, his babyness, his need for me. Even when it hurt, this need, I clung to it, I clung to it, unwilling – unable? – to let go. That he refused bottles was, in my tired mind, a kind of victory: he would have only me. He wanted only me. His need kept him young; his need kept him mine.

I drank his need like a draught.

When he finally took a bottle – a good thing, I agreed with my husband, a good thing that he be able to get nourishment from someone other than me, a good thing that I could be separated from him for a night, a good thing that he not need me so relentlessly – I recognized the moment as a victory. I could sleep through the night. I could leave him for more than a few hours at a time. I could wear a bra that did not feature clip-up flaps. I could go a day without being bitten. I could reacquaint myself with my body as my own.

I could move – I can move, now – through the day and through the night without experiencing myself as an object of need. This is good. I love it; I celebrate it; I thank the gods for it. But is it wrong to say – even as I recognize that he will outgrow that need, even as I acknowledge that he must outgrow that need, even as I celebrate my freedom from that need – that I still need him, that I am thirsty for his need of me?

Is it wrong that I cling to his babyness like an infant to a breast, that, in moments, I must fight the urge to paw and truffle and cling, to bury my nose in the sweet, soft folds of his neck and whisper, you are mine? Is it wrong that I have moments of wanting to press him to me and wish ourselves back to the first months of his life, when his need was unquenchable, indisputable? Is it wrong that I have moments of wishing that I could freeze time here and keep him as he is, or as he was a few weeks ago, my needful creature? Is it wrong that while I celebrate, quietly, ambivalently, his weaning, I mourn the growth, the movement toward his independence from me that this weaning represents? Is it wrong that I wish, sometimes, that I could keep him like this, a baby, my baby, forever?

This is the way his babyhood ends, not with a bang but a whisper.

Dress Your Family In Tutus And Sparkles

April 24, 2009

Look, I`m not even going to ask you if it`s a form of child exploitation to dress one`s boy-child in a pink tutu and publish it on the Internet, because a) I already know the answer and b) I`m not interested in hearing from anonymous commenters who wish to inform me that u will turn ur boy gay with farry dresses u know! (I much prefer to collect those as e-mails, to keep in my collection with the UR A EXPLOYTER mail that the drunk Baryshnikov video prompted.)

I`ll just say this: I didn`t have a unicorn costume on hand, and he was game for the tutu. So. Judge me if you want. I`ll probably still sleep at night.

You Know You’re A Redneck Parent When…

February 13, 2009

1) You’ve bathed your kid in a bucket.

2) You’ve answered the door with no shirt on and your nursing bra flaps down.

3) You’ve carried your baby around Nashville with paper towels stuffed down his pants because you forgot diapers and he crapped himself in Jack’s BBQ and oh god they just don’t sell diapers in downtown Nashville and please, please, does anyone have a maxipad even???


4) You put your baby in cowboy boots and a Willie Nelson onesie for a New York Times photo shoot. We have MAD REDNECK CRED ’round here, yo.

(Now, go here and tell me how you know that you’re a Redneck. Because we should all aspire to be like this lady.) (Yeah, that means put comments there – it’s a Redneck Round-Up, y’all!)

The Science Of Sleep

February 3, 2009

I think that I’ve said it here before, but I’ll say it again: I’m exhausted. I’m going to say more about it right now, so if the topic of my slow spiral into sleep-deprived madness bores you, click away now.

When Emilia was a baby, I was pretty certain that I had the night-time sleep thing figured out. She refused, for the most part, to nap during the day, but was sleeping through the night from infancy and so I counted myself lucky. More than lucky: I was smart. I knew what I was doing, if only in this one area of motherhood. There were a lot of things that I couldn’t figure out (like naps, which I bitched about heartily), but getting baby to sleep at night? I knew all about that. When I spoke to other moms who couldn’t get their babies to sleep through the night, I shared my tactics – consistent bedtime routine, liberal use of loveys and binkies, a willingness to let baby fuss it out – and nodded sympathetically when they said that these tactics didn’t work for them. I nodded sympathetically, but secretly, I wondered: were they doing it wrong? They must be doing something wrong. My formula worked like magic. Of course it was because it was exactly the right formula, and not because Emilia was simply disposed to sleep at night. I wasn’t just lucky. I was doing something right.

I was wrong. I was lucky. Mostly. I mean, my tactics certainly helped – Emilia’s bedtime routine was made all the more straightforward for its consistency and its props. She did need to fuss it out sometimes, and my willingness to allow that helped us through some difficult periods. But mostly? She was, and is, a good night sleeper.

Jasper is not. And nothing that I do seems able to change that.

I’ve tried everything – routine, props, fussing it out, crying it out, nursing before sleep, not nursing before sleep, swaddling, not swaddling, vodka (for me) – and then tried it all again, and none of it has worked. Sometimes he settles easily into his crib, sometimes he will only fall asleep in his car seat, but regardless of how he falls asleep, he does not stay asleep. He wakes up, always, a couple of hours after going down, and then he will not return to sleep unless he is tucked in at the breast, in bed, with me, and then he will wake up, invariably, every two hours or so to nurse or just to grab at me and make sure that I am still there. If I sneak away to another room – as I have been doing most nights, just to remove the temptation of boob and try to extend the minutes between wakings – he still wakes up, and yells Ma-Ma-Ma-Ma-Ma until I return.

And so it goes, night after night. The husband gets up with him in the mornings, when he can, which affords me a couple of hours of rest, but beyond that there is not much to be had. I stumble forward into each day, ever more tired, ever more slow, ever more blurred and bleary and dazed. I’m coping, in a way – there are worse things, certainly, than to be exhausted from caring for a beautiful, healthy, ever-happy baby – but still: I look ahead at the days and weeks and months of Jasper’s babyhood and wonder whether I am fated to remain awake for the duration. And I wonder whether I will stay sane.

Of course I will stay sane. I’ll be fine. Millions of mothers before me have endured sleeplessness. Many, indeed, have done it without the advantages of helpful husbands and king-sized beds and spare rooms and Ativan prescriptions. So I resist the urge to proclaim myself overwhelmed unto defeat. If my own mother could do it, so can I.

What I am having more trouble overcoming: the nagging worry that I am not just unlucky, that I am, in fact – against all evidence to the contrary – doing something wrong, that I am missing some vital resource, some work of science or art or magic that would change things, that would make my baby sleep at night. I think back to the nights of Emilia’s babyhood, when I would stand outside her door and listen to her breathing and fight the urge to go in and – the mind boggles, it just boggles – wake her up to snuggle her, to have more time with her in her babyness, and I wonder whether that was a different woman, a different mother, a mother who knew things, things that I do not know, or have forgotten.

And then I wonder whether I am going crazy, and I shake the Ativan bottle to see how many pills are left and I calculate the odds of Jasper deciding to sleep through the night before they run out.

And I tell myself that I am very probably not that lucky.

Okay, maybe I’m a little bit lucky. It’s just, you know, it’d be nice to look at them and not have them be blurry.

(I apologize – do I need to apologize? – for turning off comments so much recently. I’ve been doing it when a) I know that I need to back away from the computer – to, you know, maybe sleep a little bit – and won’t be able to read comments, and b) when I’m just posting video of the babies, because that whole thing where you give way too much thought to whether people are going leave comments saying how cute they are and ohmigod what if no-one says they’re cute? I don’t like that. So I avoid the issue altogether. Feel free to tell me that you think that this is terrible of me. Because I worry about that, too.)

If Baryshnikov Were A Vertically-Challenged Vaudevillian…

January 29, 2009

… who was given to hitting the bottle before performances, it would probably look something like this:

I make no apologies. I mean, what are babies for?


The First Cut

January 27, 2009

Here’s something that I had planned to never blog about: my son’s penis. Not about the novelty of having a baby with a penis (because, really: contrary to all expectation, the novelty wears off. A baby penis is just a little version of the appendage that you’ve seen before, and once you get accustomed to the risk of being sprayed during diaper changes, there’s really nothing particularly complicated about its care and maintenance), not about the differences between be-penised babies and be-vulvaed babies (there’ll be plenty of opportunity to reflect upon gender differences as these pertain to my son and daughter without considering their genitalia) and certainly not about our decision whether or not to make that all-too-significant snip. Circumcision, above all else, was not something that I was going to blog about. Too personal. Too controversial. Nothing to say about it.

I changed my mind. I still regard the topic as dangerously personal and controversial, but I do, as it turns out, have something to say about it.

My husband and I agonized over whether or not to circumcise Jasper. Actually, that’s not true: I agonized over whether or not to circumcise Jasper. My husband was pretty certain that he wanted to not circumcise – it’s not my place to explain his reasons, but I will say that he (my husband) is circumcised, and that he does not practice a religion that encourages circumcision – and although my inclination was to give my husband decision-making authority on this issue – he, after all, knows penises better than I do – I was, for some time, torn. I had never seen an uncircumsised penis. I had no idea – beyond the most rudimentary, high-school sex-ed posterboard kind of understanding – what might be the implications of circumcising or not circumcising. I was all, what’s a foreskin? And: why cut it off? But also: but doesn’t everyone cut it off? And: if everyone else cuts it off, there must be a reason. But then again: cutting. I was very confused, and more than a little uncomfortable about the whole subject.

The only thing that I knew for certain was this: circumcision meant that someone would bring a very sharp object very close to a very delicate part of my very little baby, and I didn’t like that idea one bit.

I read every article, medical and otherwise, that I could get my virtual hands on. I read anti-circumcision articles and pro-circumcision articles. I read about how circumcision might reduce rates of certain kinds of infections, and about how such reductions were most likely statistically irrelevant in North America. I read many personal essays by parents who are pro-circumcision, and many by parents who are anti-circumcision. I saw many comparisons to female genital mutilation, which I dismissed intellectually, but which haunted me nonetheless. I resisted being haunted. I worried about resisting being haunted. I worried about the ethics of making such a decision for my child: what would my boy want, if he were able to ask himself the question? I asked my husband; he knew his own answer. I wasn’t sure that that was enough.

I worried about how much I was worrying over the issue.

I read more articles.

I read that the pediatric associations of both the United States and of Canada recommended against circumcision. They were circumspect about it, to be sure: they fall all over themselves assuring concerned parents that it’s a personal decision, a decision that only the family can make. But they still get their message across: there’s no medical reason for a child to be circumcised.

That, however, was not the reason that I decided that I did not want Jasper to be circumcised. I decided that I did not want Jasper to be circumcised, simply, because I could not bear to allow anything to happen to him that would cause him unnecessary hurt. I could not bear the idea of the flash of a blade near his little body, the slice that would cause him to cry out in pain.

This was – this is – an intensely personal decision. In a way, it was a selfish decision: I made (and my husband supported) a decision based upon my feelings, my fears. It is Jasper, however, who will live with this decision. If I chose, I could weave a story, a philosophy, about how decisions such as these demand that we consider most seriously the passive option – that we do nothing that takes away from the individual that our child will become, that we do nothing that constrains that individual, that robs that individual of anything, literally or figuratively – but that would be bullshit. As parents, we make decisions every day – every hour – that shape our childrens’ futures with little conscious regard for whether or not our children, looking back, would want us to consider those decisions differently. We take away little pieces of potential futures for our children with every step that we take – and with every step that we take, every decision that we make, we also add pieces, we also build possibilities into those futures. Obviously, in an ideal world, we would make all the right decisions, and our children would one day congratulate us for caring for them and protecting their interests perfectly. But ours is not an ideal world, and we make decisions under imperfect conditions, and we can be assured only that we will, as parents, achieve imperfect results.

So I didn’t choose to not circumcise my son because I was perfectly convinced that it was right thing to do, because I believed that it was the thing that he, someday, would thank me for doing. I didn’t make the choice that I did because I think that all parents should make that choice. I didn’t choose to not circumcise because I came to the conclusion that it was the only choice that a good mother could make. I did it only because I didn’t want to cut him.

It was the only thing that I could do, the only choice that I could make, for me. I can only hope that I did right, that I chose right, by him.

(I’ve not yet drawn a name for the Motozine from last week’s giveaway; I’ll do so at first opportunity and post the winner by Thursday. In the meantime, thank you all so very, very much for sharing your generosity of spirit in the comments, and, as always for your love and support.)

Weekend Forecast: Flurries, With A Good Chance Of Poo

January 16, 2009

Hey, baby! Could you look into your little rubber crystal ball and tell us the forecast for the weekend?


What’s that?


35% chance of flurries, 78% chance of spit-up, 100% chance of sleeplessness, 123% chance of productive farts?Align Center
Just as I expected.

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To everyone who has been leaving their condolences for Maria: thank you. You’re helping to spread a little love around a broken heart.

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Toronto-area peeps: interested in heading out on the town, sort of? Read this, and let me know.

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And… don’t read this unless you’re up for feeling really, really angry. Or, do read it and then click back here to have another gander at that super cutetastic baby up at the top of the page, to take the edge off of the grrr arrgh that I guarantee you you’re going to feel. Cute babies are good for that, you know.