Thursday, March 29, 2012

29.3.12 - And that's snot all...

Once you have a baby, everything in your life becomes a little bit more moist. There's no other way to describe it. And I'm not being vulgar here; this doesn't pertain to the usual culprits found down in diaper land. That's a given. I'm talking about the bits of food, dribble, residue from wipes and the biggest offender of all, whatever is leaking like a broken tap from your child's nose. 

It's a fact of parenthood. Deal with it. 

We happen to be a very snotty family, no pun intended. Both my husband and I suffer terribly from sinusitis in the winter and it's looking like junior might be struggling with the same issue. But I can't be sure, because kids are leaking wells of snot, whether they have a family history of it or otherwise. It's just what being a kid is all about. I used to work with kids and most of them were really good about having their noses wiped because the stickiness was annoying them. My son the champion equates having the snot wiped from his nose to the world's greatest form of torture. It seems to be just about the worst punishment we could inflict on him, other than taking away whatever bath toy he was infatuated with. For the life of me, I can't understand why. He's seemingly quite bothered by the snot - he struggles to breathe easily and feed properly because of it, but he also gets terribly insulted when we try to relieve him of the mucous-y monster that plagues him. Go figure. 

The other problem with snot, apart from the obvious grossness, is that it makes people think your child is constantly sick, when in fact he's just a child. We all have lots of snot - it's the body's natural defense system. We as adults just know how to dispose of it properly. Kids don't. It's just there, and it doesn't bother them nearly as much as it bothers us. At a recent outing, a childless friend kept pointing out my son's drainpipe of a nose and kept suggesting he was unwell. Several times. To the point of ridiculousness. I politely said, "Ah it's just a bit of snot. He's playing and eating and interacting happily. He's fine, not to worry." What I really wanted to say was, "Mind your GD business! It's so bloody easy to comment when you play with the kid for five minutes and hand him back to me because he dripped something on your 250 Shekel sweater! Shut the hell up and stop telling me what my kid is or isn't!"

But I didn't. And neither did you, even though you wanted to. Because, you'd be awkward later.  

The other problem that arises with snot is that my daycare providers are constantly convinced that he's unwell and keep calling my husband and I at work to come and collect our perfectly happy, healthy child. I do hope they realize that we are going to lose the jobs that pay their salary if they keep this up. WIPE HIS FRIGGIN' NOSE! It's not that hard. It is, in fact, part of the package I assume we're paying megabucks for, above and beyond the hot lunch and cozy environment. I'll pack a thousand extra wipes if it means they'll use them and not call me every time baby boy snorts. 

But que sera. This is the world we live in. We fear germs and illness the way our ancestors feared the plague because we think they'll be the end of us. It's time to toughen up, folks. Our kids need to get sick to get better, and we need to correctly identify what's "sick" and what's just a bit gross. Kids are kids, and kids are messy. The answer? We simply need to keep wiping his nose. Whenever you think it's done, you have to keep in mind that that's snot all, folks....

Monday, March 19, 2012

18.3.12 - Bite me

My son is a glorious eater. He likes pretty much anything you feed him and demands more, RIGHT NOW! Now, I know for a fact this is a blessing; many parents struggle with kids who are fussy or poor eaters, and I have luckily been spared that. However, baby boy is currently getting three top teeth, has a blocked nose, started biting me and has gone, sporadically, on a "breastfeeding strike." His first ever favorite food, breastmilk, is being rejected. 

So mummy feels like she's been dumped. Because it's all about me, of course.

After a quick read of ten or so articles (I'm trying to cut back) I realize persistence is key, although I have crumbled a few times and given him a bottle (he has two bottles of formula a day at daycare, but I still breastfeed morning, evening and all weekend). In whatever case, I realize I need to be strong and just keep offering him the boob, no matter how rejected I feel when he thinks everything else in existence is more interesting.  It just strikes me though how emotionally invested I am in him rejecting the breast.

I should just be happy that he eats so much and so well, and keep in mind he was exclusively breastfed for the first six months, as recommended by most doctors and interwebs, who guide most of my parenting. Still, I can't help taking it personally. Of all of the "selfish mum" things I thought I might do (overdress him because I'm cold, not let him do something because I don't think its fun, etc) this was never one of them. Yet it's the proverbial cartoon "dagger, dagger in my heart" when he turns away from my proffered boob. His father is well confused.

For those who have had the privilege of breastfeeding, I needn't go into the many reasons why it rocks; it's the best you can give them, it's special bonding time, it's quick, easy, cheap and helps to protect them against the array of vicious infections out there just waiting to piss you off.  Above and beyond all this, in the most self serving way, it's what I can give him that no daddy or daycare provider can. It's what makes me mummy, with a halo above my head and glowing white light and awesome entry music. My skewed version of reality aside, it just made me special. Yes, I carried him for ten months (that's not a typo, he was late) and yes, I will of course always be mummy but this was my "thing." I don't want to lose my thing! It's mine! No, actually, its ours. And that's when the realization sets in.

My baby boy is growing up. 

I left the nest pretty early - I moved out of home at 19, although after several older siblings before me, I don't think it was as dramatic a shock as it could have been for my parents. Plus, I was rarely home to begin with so for the first few months out of home they probably thought I was still on summer camp. With that in mind, how surprised can I be that my child is "moving on" so early? It's in his blood. That said, his father only moved out when we moved in together and might still be living at home if I hadn't been in the picture so I could be wrong. Note: I'm saying all of this with full recognition that it's a breastfeeding strike, not a complete cessation or weaning, and I really should calm the hell down. But I've been struck with an overwhelming sense of loss over this tiny rejection and need to come to grips with the fact that it's going to be the first of many. 

The honeymoon is over, and I need to start to understand that parenting is the world's trickiest game and most rewarding challenge. My privilege was bringing my son into the world; I owe it to him to let him experience the world as he chooses, while providing the best environment and launching pad possible. That means me not getting my way a lot and him understanding I love him no matter what happens. Which is tough, but exactly what I want for him. In that case, I'll lick my wounds privately and probably indulge them in that second beer I've been waiting so long to have. In short, rather than mourn my loss, instead I think I'll celebrate his ongoing independent gains. Cheers!

Ed note - Since writing this post, the boy has returned to the boob with gusto. I  really annoy myself sometimes...

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

7.3.12 – Threats, real and perceived

It’s hard to hide from what’s going on in the news at the moment, but if you try really hard…well, you still can't. As has happened for the last few years, the Iranian nuclear threat has heightened, again, just in time for us Jews to draw parallels to the festival of Purim, when we celebrate our survival out of the hands of near annihilation from a Persian ruler who wished to wipe us off the face of the planet. Note: I love Jewish history because it repeats itself and is easily lent to topical blog posts.

Like many Anglo Israelis, I hold dual citizenship, as do my husband and son, which often starts discussions about “where to go if…” and then we don’t say the rest of the sentence, because it’s too horrible. I’m not 100% sure if it's horrible because of the sheer terror inspired by the thought of a nuclear attack, or even mentioning that and our children in the same breath, or even, pardon my idealism, the thought of skipping out on the Zionist dream. Whatever it is, we don’t say it. Like we don’t say Amalek, a rumored cousin of Haman, who is likely the however-many-times-removed great uncle of the presently ruling Iranian ass-clown who talks about our destruction over his morning hummus.

Jewish history aside, I also think about all the other mini and maxi threats that face me as a mum every day, like colds, allergies, SIDS, or possibly falling pregnant again in the next two minutes because my husband is shooting me a suggestive smile. Hell, I crumbled pretty easily in the delivery room when I, like many strong, beautiful, appropriately dilated women, perceived the threat that I was “ABOUT TO DIE GET ME THE DAMN EPIDURAL NOW.” With that in mind, what’s to say I wont be on the next flight out of here when, God forbid, a siren tolls?

The answer, I suppose, is simply being prepared for any scenario, which both parenthood and living in Israel force you into, whether you were like that before or not. You do your research and weigh up the options and make your next move from there. For example, when I was about seven months pregnant, I went on a hospital tour with the good folk from Pregnant in the City, an organization that holds English-speaking informational events and seminars, amongst other things, for expectant mothers in Tel Aviv. It was great; we saw the delivery rooms, the wards, what staff would be involved, we even checked out the baby hotel. All of this useful and powerful information notwithstanding, when it happens, you just go with it and do whatever you need to do to get through it, no matter what level of preparedness you have. Like the way I still check on my son umpteen times a night after he’s gone to sleep to see if he’s breathing; I know he’s fine but still, what if? What if his snotty nose is actually pneumonia? What if that tiny bump on his head is a tumor? What if I just calmed the hell down for moment. What if?

Then I stop and realize that every move I make is a weighted decision, and with each decision comes consequences, both good and bad. So yes, I do worry about Israel’s fragile existence and existential threats. But I also worry about him not wearing 100% cotton pants on his sensitive skin. I worry about the zealous nature of those in government; but I also worry about the upbringing I would give him if he weren’t one of the many ridiculously cute children in costume on the streets of Tel Aviv this morning. I worry. It’s my right as a Jew, as a mother, as a concerned citizen who is also an online news junkie. And that worry keeps me on my toes, keeps me sharp, helps me put my family’s needs at the forefront of everything I do. Which, as often happens by the end of a blog post, I realize is ok and afforded to me, no matter how annoying it might seem at the time. Above and beyond it all, the nation of Israel lives. Have a great holiday.