Screw the six inches of snow predicted tomorrow.
Worst April Fool’s joke ever, WEATHERMEN.
Sunny and I are kicking around in our Keep shoes, dreaming of summer days on a sailboat.
Screw the six inches of snow predicted tomorrow.
Worst April Fool’s joke ever, WEATHERMEN.
Sunny and I are kicking around in our Keep shoes, dreaming of summer days on a sailboat.
Our new house from Auntie Dev. I don’t know who’s more excited, me or Sunny. I’m glowing that I assembled this here house sans the assistance of James, while Sunny is relishing scribbling on the house, hiding the crayons inside, and asking, “Oh no! Where’s a blue?!” before diving inside and rescuing them.
Parents always say that all kids need are a cardboard box. I bet that a cardboard box house beats that!
As always, the squinty faced smile substitute at work.
I’m one of those people that says, “I love you,” a lot. All the time. Constantly. Relentlessly so.
And I mean it every time I say it.
I say it at the end of any phone conversation with someone I love.
I write it out in emails.
My household is inundated with I love yous, and hugs, and kisses, and terms of endearment.
In my mind, we only get this life with those that we love, so why not ensure that they feel that love every day? Why not let them feel overwhelmingly, exhaustively loved?
There is no such thing as too much love. There cannot possibly be.
Sunny and I usually read 3-4 books a night. I try to mix things up, but last week I ended every story session with Guess How Much I Love You?. I cannot read that book without tearing up at the end. It makes my mommy heart ache with recognition because I feel every bit of Big Nutbrown Hare’s sentiments.
Yes, I’m relating to a hare these days, and what?
Two nights ago, I ended storytime with I Took the Moon for a Walk. I went to lift Sunny into her crib, and she said, “No mommy. Read rabbits.”
I couldn’t resist this request as the book had become a favorite of mine as well.
I watched Addison as I read, seeing a smile sneak across her face each time Little Nutbrown Hare described his love for Big Nutbrown Hare, and Big Nutbrown Hare countered with even bigger love.
She smiled. And sighed. And relaxed into the story.
It ended, and she pleaded, “Again.”
And so we read it again.
After the second reading, I tucked her into her crib. I told her, “I love you right up to the moon and back. I love you, Sunny.”
And she replied, “I love you, Mommy.”
There have been no greater words spoken in the history of the Universe.
I just hope she shares my propensity to say those words constantly, relentlessly, always.
Note: She’s wearing all clothing from my childhood. My brother’s red leather shoes, and “clown suit” or “hammer pants” (the jury’s still out on that one, although they are fairly synonymous). And my sailboat vest.
The wicked high pony is courtesy of a one James Cart. And there is no other way to describe it other than “wicked.”
I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anything cuter or more ridiculous in my life. We’re all dead from cute. In fact, I’m writing from the afterlife.
French Terry Lounge Pant in White by be present
This post is weeks behind. That 2.5 week long sinus infection is to blame. Who wants to endure a photo shoot with green slime pouring out of their nose and a midwestern high school marching band parading around their head?
Yeah, no one.
Despite the yucky sinus nonsense, and Sunny’s stream of colds, and coughs, and fevers (ah the joys of life with a toddler), Month 4 has been a good one. No nausea. Some glimpses of spring. A trip to Florida. And, best of all, the opportunity to see our growing Sesame Seed.
I had seen Addison three times by the time I saw the Sesame Seed. With Sunny, I was seeing an OB in Beverly Hills with some super high tech equipment right in her office. I had an ultrasound every appointment. Since she was my first, I had no idea that that was unique (and a bit excessive). It was a very different experience to the care I’m currently receiving with a midwifery practice in Southern Vermont. While the midwives don’t have all the latest medical equipment lying around their office and I have to do my lab work through the general hospital lab, it has been such a laid back, comfortable experience. It helps that I’ve already been through one healthy pregnancy, labor, delivery, and baby, but I am enjoying feeling as though my care providers are trusting my body and the Sesame Seed to do the work we need to do and are only checking in when necessary. If there were complications, I of course would want to seek the kind of care I received in L.A., but since everything is going smoothly thus far (save an ornery thyroid and a lingering sinus infection), the care of midwives is exactly what we need.
Particularly, I am looking forward to the labor and delivery (as much as any woman can look forward to such an experience), as I know I’ll have a team of nurses and care providers that are 100% supportive of my wishes for an unmedicated water birth. That was far far from the case in the 90210 with Sunny. That story is for another post, and I will definitely be writing more about Leboyer as I get closer to my due date.
For now, I’m relishing looking at all the photos of the Sesame Seed squirming and kicking and growing inside me. Sunny has been more engaged than ever with my belly and kisses the baby good morning and says, “Hi, Baby!” It’s unclear how much of this she understands, but she gets much joy in trying to feel her baby sister kick and in enthusiastically proclaiming that she is a “Big Sister!”
As usual, I had to share my favorite outtakes from the shoot, as they are always so much fun. Is Milo, Kate’s pup, not the cutest? Given that his mama is a photographer, he is quite comfortable in front of the camera. ______________________________________________________________________________________
**Photos: Courtesy of Kate Drew Miller Photography
As always, I cannot thank Kate enough for taking on this project with me. She rocks. Truly.
***Clothes: Courtesy of be present
Please, head on over to Facebook and ‘like’ the heck out of this awesome company. And if you’re on Twitter, why don’t you give ‘em a follow? And you can check out their whole line and subscribe to their newsletter by heading over to www.bepresent.com.
Planning out the room design for Sunny and the Sesame Seed.
Balloons. And rainbow raindrops. Obviously.
Expect many a post about this little project. James is rolling his eyes so dramatically that they are hitting the back of his skull. FUN TIMES FOR ALL!
Note: The colors at the bottom of the inspiration board are pulled directly from the Oriental rug that will inhabit the room, and is thus the basis for the color scheme.
We had a lazy Sunday. The kind of Sunday where I stayed in my pajamas until 2pm, lying around Addison’s room, sipping my coffee and watching her play.
She moved from building toy airplanes out of primary colored Legos, to sipping tea out of purple tea cups poured by her pink tea kettle, to zooming a PlayMobile fork lift around with a princess PlayMobile character at the wheel, all the while her Elmo sitting by bedecked in one of her doll’s dresses while she sported bright blue dinosaur pajamas.
Why couldn’t she always have such a fluid and flexible perception of identity, particularly her own?
I recently finished reading Peggy Orenstein’s “Cinderella Ate My Daughter,” and am more aware than ever that there will come a day when she’ll understand the demands and expectations of her gender. What to like. What and how to play. How to dress. Even what to think. Ultimately, she’ll be taught how to perform her gender. She’ll learn, that as a female, how you look is how you feel.*
It’s already begun. It started the moment we learned that we were expecting a girl. The clothes she wears, the toys people have given her, the colors of her nursery, the language people use when addressing her, it is all dictated by the cultural norms of our society.
Yesterday I learned that I am expecting another daughter. Everyone’s initial response was, “Great! You already have everything you need.” or “It’s nice that you won’t have to worry about buying boy stuff, you already have all the stuff for a girl.” While in some way those statements resonate, as I am sure that I would have felt a need to purchase traditional little boy outfits and pepper the house with shades of blue were I to learn that I was pregnant with a boy, part of those sentiments just don’t sit right.
Arguably, I already have everything I could possibly need for a little boy OR girl. The needs of infants and toddlers are very similar, regardless of gender, and while I couldn’t see myself dressing a baby boy in Addison’s old ruffled, pink sundresses, his basic needs would be more than met by all of the clothing, toys, burp cloths, bips, bottles, binkies, etc. that we already own from Addison’s infancy.
But man does our society love polarizing boys and girls.
And that’s not to say that I don’t want to celebrate my daughters’ femininity or womanhood. I only wish that we could envision that identity more broadly and flexibly. For both women and men, I wish those identities and the expectations of them were more fluid.
Knowing, however, that we still have a great deal of work to do on that front, how the hell will James and I raise two well-balanced, confident, secure, strong women?
Moving from Los Angeles to a sleepy, college-town in Western Mass was our first effort as parents to cut out the noise of mainstream media from our daughter’s consciousness. While in this networked world there is no way to completely remove the bombardment of advertising and media, this physical relocation certainly eases the assault of mainstream imagery and messaging. Our home is sans television. But of course we have a computer and Internet access. We do not purchase toys or clothing or accessories with mainstream branding. Yet we do not discard the gifts of Tickle-Me-Elmo or Minnie Mouse pajamas when given those by friends and family.
We’re not naive. We know that we cannot completely cocoon our children from the outside world, but we can certainly filter and limit this exposure through our personal choices and actions.
I’ve been reflecting on my own childhood, as I think of myself now as a confident, educated female that pushes back on cultural norms and challenges societal expectations of my gender. How did my parents do it? What can I draw from my own childhood experiences that might shed some light on what to do with my own daughters.
Fact: I was a bride five Halloweens running. Yes, a bride. As in, the big puffy white dress, the veil, the bouquet, the ring, the whole-dreaming-of-my-prince-charming shebang. My mother, not one to stifle our interests, allowed it. But hot dang, I know I’ll bristle with concern if Addison asks to be a BRIDE for Halloween in the coming years.
And yet, not only did I not wear a veil or carry a bouquet at my own wedding, I did not wear a white gown (who was I kidding with the whole virginal, pure white facade? That ship sailed in high school, folks). I wasn’t “given away” (if there is a more misogynistic ritual that we so willingly and excitedly embrace in our culture it has got to be the father “giving away” the bride to the groom). Rather both of my parents walked me down the aisle, and both of James’ parents walked him down the aisle. And we met as equal partners at the end.
Ultimately, I had come to think very critically about the rituals of a marriage and felt empowered enough to craft a ceremony that embraced more egalitarian notions of such a union.
If only my 6 year old self could have seen it! She would have been shockingly disappointed. NO TEN FOOT WEDDING TRAIN ESCORTED BY SOARING DOVES?!?
Somehow, my parents had raised me in an environment where I could pursue my interests, whether they were as a Halloween bride, or athlete, or photographer, or sailor, or girlfriend to a high school senior (when I was, GASP!, only 15), or world traveler, or book worm. They never made me feel ashamed of my pursuits and indulged my enthusiasm and exuberance, while subtly and gently enforcing their own value systems. Hard work was important. School mattered. Building meaningful relationships of all kinds was the stuff of life. Being passionate and confident in your actions was the heart of success. It only takes one “yes” so don’t be afraid of the “no’s.” And, most significantly, I was a person of value. All people had value. And no one should be treated differently based on their gender, age, skin, religion, sexuality, and so on. I also realize that my limited exposure to television and heavily branded products was intentional, although not forbidden.
As Peggy surmises, our role as parents is “not to keep the world at bay, but to prepare our daughters so they can thrive within it.”**
Ironically, my mother used to casually ask me, “Ash, do your teachers call on you in class? Do you feel like the boys are getting more attention?” I used to cringe and moan, “Mooooom, I’m not treated any differently, OKAY? That feminist stuff was a problem for YOUR generation. Stop worrying about me.” And I’d skulk off and journal dramatically about how misunderstood I was, like any proper 16 year old.
Flash forward two years, I entered college, enrolled in Gender Studies 101, and I have never been able to look at the world the same way. I see gender everywhere. How it shapes how we all interface and connect and understand one another, and thus how the visual, marketing world has interpreted and enforced those messages and perceptions. That course flipped a switch and I have carried that light with me ever since. Given that my academic interests lie in the visual world, my double major in Art and Gender Studies was compelling and disheartening and complex, which pushed me on to a Master’s in Public Art which only exacerbated the complexity and the scrutiny with which I approach mainstream media and advertising.
If only I could pinch that 16 year old version of myself and let her know that my mother was indeed on to something.
I see my identity now as very contradictory (by our culture’s standards). I can be confident and strong-willed and opinionated and comfortable with confrontation, while also being sensitive and emotional, apt to cry, apt to wear frilly dresses and high heels, apt to worry about my weight, and apt to want to have my husband tell me that I’m beautiful.
Maybe that’s just it. It’s about being comfortable embodying paradox.
I hope that I can teach my daughters that comfort.
For now, I’ll let them revel in sitting in toy bins, playing with whatever, however they wish.
If you are a parent to a daughter, I strongly recommend that you pick up a copy of “Cinderella Ate My Daughter,” like, yesterday.
*Orenstein, CAMD, p. 183
** p. 192
Addison gets a Kimmy.
Let me explain.
When I was pregnant with Sunny, I did not have a strong preference either way for a daughter or a son. I was having a baby! My first baby! I just wanted him or her to be healthy (who doesn’t?) and the sexual bits that accompanied that baby did not weigh on my thoughts.
At the time, I had been babysitting for a sweet, adorable, baby boy for over a year, and was thoroughly smitten with the idea of having a son, while simultaneously feeling more confident about the prospect of having a daughter. In my family, the boys? They are rebels and the girls? Total goodie-two-shoes. Thus I was convinced that a son might be more of a challenge judging by my family’s history, but then again, James and my father were mellow, sweet boys growing up, so I totally had a chance at that. Oh hell, I just wanted 10 fingers, 10 toes, 2 eyes, ears in the right place, etc.
This time around, it was different. Sunny and I are both first-born daughters. The Sesame Seed is due 26 months from Addison, exactly the same spacing that I share with my baby sister, a woman without whom I would not know how to exist in the world. She is so much more than a sibling, companion, and best friend. She is my other half. My reason. My balance.
I couldn’t help but want to give that amazing gift to Addison.
James, by virtue of growing up in a family of 4 boys, had let go of any baggage of trying to replicate his family dynamic from the moment we saw Sunny’s “popo” (yes, our fluffy household word for “vagina”) on the ultrasound screen two years ago. He didn’t fully understand this fixation I had with wanting the Sesame Seed to be a little sister.
Believe me, I know of plenty of sisters who are not close. Who fought. And squabbled. And caused all sorts of drama in their households.
Regardless, I wanted Sunny to have a Kimmy.
Don’t get me wrong, I would have gotten over that hang-up and been more than thrilled to welcome a baby boy Cart into the world. Given the joy and love I felt caring for Cash, the baby boy in California, I knew I was more than capable and would relish the opportunity to mother a son.
But, my own relationship with my sister kept me selfishly hoping for a little girl.
And so today, we saw our Sesame Seed for the very first time. Her profile already shares the same button nose of her older sister.
The Sesame Seed is Addison’s Kimmy. And my heart has never felt so full.
This weekend, in proper New England fashion, we went maple sugaring. We had a taste of this March ritual last year when we first moved back to Western Massachusetts (see photo at the bottom of this post from last year’s experience. My GOD! Sunny was wee). This year, however, we didn’t sit idly by eating pancakes, we learned! We participated! We maple sugared! *SavedByTheBellstylehighfive*
And now James and I are both dreaming of purchasing a home with an orchard of maple trees so that we can do this in our own backyard. James can build the sugar shack, and the wood stove, and all the other necessary equipment, and I can, well, provide effusive moral support. In the meantime, we’ll envy our friends with this capability, and totally mooch off of them for the foreseeable future.
Sunny loved drinking the warm maple sap. And when she discovered the joy of dipping her marshmallows into her cup of hot sap, her mind? Officially blown.