Friday, July 27, 2012

Privilege

If you are on Facebook, you have probably seen this or something very similar to it:


There are a lot of incarnations; this is the first one that was listed in my Google Images search. Some of them are a little more detailed than this, some a little less, some have more specific racial tones to them.

I'm assuming you've seen something like this at least once because I have seen it dozens of times. It's around. And it makes me want to run over Facebook with my car.

People who've posted this, what's your point? Do you think one of the offenders mentioned, one of these food stamps/welfare recipients who are not managing their money the way you think they should, is going to see it and go, "Oh, DUH. I've got to stop doing that! I will quit buying cigarettes and paying my phone bill immediately. Sorry, everyone! My bad!"

Of course you don't. Even if you do think that's going to happen, it's not. You know what will happen? You, and everyone like you, will contribute to the culture of shame that surrounds government aid and poor people in general. One of your Facebook acquaintances who uses government aid will see your post, understand that people like him are the laughingstock of the middle class, and be ashamed of himself for being poor. Your close friend, who you don't even realize uses a Horizon card to buy groceries, will resolve to herself never to let you or anyone else know her embarrassing secret. All the people who need help will go on believing, correctly, that those who are more fortunate think less of them.

Have you never needed help? Never used Pell grants or loans and gifts from family members or friends, never moved home for a while when you were too broke to make it on your own? If you've done any of those things, if you HAVE needed help in your life, what the hell are you doing participating in poor-shaming?

And if you haven't? If you have had all the safe shelter and nutritious food and clean water you wanted, all your life, and you've been able to get it all completely on your own? Congratulations. You're part of a very tiny, very elite worldwide minority. Check your privilege at the door; it's impairing your judgment.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Gift of Giving Life

This post is a stop on the Virtual Book Tour for The Gift of Giving Life.  



My friend, Lani, is smart and kind and lovely and wonderful. She writes a blog about birth, mothers four children, and is a friend to all. She's also one of the authors and editors of The Gift of Giving Life, a recently-released anthology of birth stories and essays touching on the spiritual side of becoming mothers (and fathers).

I have the book. I've read it, and it's beautiful. I'm only a tiny bit biased because the front of the book bears the name of one of my favorite people, and several more of my favorite people can be found as essayists and birth story contributors within the book. The Gift of Giving Life celebrates what should, in my opinion, be the most celebrated part of life: birth. I know the subject of birth can be touchy. Some of my favorite people (listen, I have a lot of favorite people) have tried and tried, unsuccessfully, to experience giving birth themselves. Others of my favorite people don't know or have strained relationships with the women who gave birth to them. Still others have been burned too often by the so-called "mommy wars" that frequently include battles, judgments, and criticisms over the tired topics of home vs. hospital and breast vs. bottle and epidurals and, well, you know.

The fact remains that every one of us in this world is here because a woman gave birth. The beauty and magnitude of that fact are too often ignored. Birth is amazing, miraculous, and heroic, no matter how it happens. The process by which we become parents SHOULD be celebrated. The brave and talented women who collected these essays went to great measures to include ALL types of birth stories here: from unassisted home births to hospital cesareans to adoptions, and everything in between, including the pain and loss associated with infertility, miscarriage, traumatic birth experiences, and abuse. You will find yourself in these pages, and, if you are like me, you will also find your Heavenly Parents, and especially Heavenly Mother, who I believe has a special stewardship over earthly mothers.

I interviewed Lani for this post. I love her words about this project, which I imagine has been like a fifth baby to her. The only thing that could have made it better is if we'd been able to have our interview face to face, over treats, and with a big hug at the end.

Okay, Ms. Axman. Knowing as I do that you are passionate about pregnancy and birth - giving life, you might say - I'm curious: what is your personal favorite part of the process?

That's something I've never really thought about before. I am one who is fortunate enough to have had smooth and relatively easy pregnancies and births, so I don't know if I could pick a favorite part of the procreative process. I love it all, from conception to cuddling that sweet-smelling, slimy baby. But if I had to pick a favorite part, I think I would say that there is nothing like feeling those first kicks and movements inside of you. I love those kicks and nudges in my belly.

Were all of your birth experiences spiritual?

During my first two birth experiences, I was more focused on the physical aspects of the process. The physical intensity is so riveting, of course. I did feel comforted and strengthened by unseen forces, but I wouldn't say the experiences were deeply spiritual for me. Empowering, yes, but not overwhelmingly spiritual. During my third pregnancy, however, I really relied on the Lord and turned to Him for guidance in my life-giving journey, and that closeness carried into the birth experience. It was a beautiful, spiritual birth, and I get warm fuzzies whenever I think about it. My fourth birth was very different from the others, but it was spiritual in its own way. I think every birth is spiritual, whether we recognize it or not. And I believe angels attend every birth, whether we notice them or not.

How did you get involved with this group of ladies and writing this book?

Back in October of 2009, a friend-of-a-friend and reader-of-my-blog sent my contact info to a woman in Los Angeles (Felice Austin) who was collecting LDS birth stories. About a month later, Felice sent me an email inviting me to contribute a personal story about my spiritual birth journey. I was thrilled to hear about her project and excited to contribute to it. I began reading her blog, and she began reading mine (http://birthfaith.org). After receiving my birth story and corresponding with me via email for a few weeks, Felice invited me to collaborate with her in writing The Gift of Giving Life. I was thrilled and honored to be given such an amazing opportunity.

Did parts of the process of dreaming up the book, teaming up with the other women, and getting it made feel divinely guided? In other words, did you feel Heavenly participation in the creation of the book, and how?

Yes, absolutely. From the start, the project felt like a "calling." We have always felt that God brought us together, that He orchestrated so much of it. We approached each important decision and topic prayerfully, both individually and as a group. We were humbled as the Lord gently shifted our vision of what we thought the book would be to what He knew the book was meant to be. When, at times, I felt discouraged or weary as the hard work of our project overwhelmed me, the Lord often reassured me through priesthood blessings that our book was very important to Him and that He was guiding us. It has been an honor to participate as a witness and a co-creator with my sisters and the Lord in this project.  

Has being part of this project changed you in any way?

Yes. I have seen some of my highest highs and lowest lows in connection with this book project. I sometimes joke that this book put me on Satan's "black list." I have felt his wrath potently in the past few years, attempting to derail or postpone our book's progress and working to incapacitate me as a mother trying to serve the Lord through my talents.

The darkness and difficulties I have experienced have humbled me deeply, and I feel I have developed more gentleness and compassion through those experiences. I also feel deeply grateful to all the men and women who taught me through the stories they submitted to us. Over and over and over, I saw the hand of God in their experiences. Over and over, my testimony was strengthened that God cares deeply about helping us through the entire procreative process, no matter how/when/where it happens.

What have you told your children (ages 8, 6, 3, and 1 - I'm guessing on those ages, I SHOULD know) about the work you've done on this book over the last couple of years? How do they feel about it?

As I spent more and more time working on the computer, I often explained to my two oldest daughters: "I'm a writer. I'm working on writing and editing a book, so that's why I am spending so much time on my computer." Often the only time I could devote to book work was the time after dinner when my husband was available to care for the children or on Saturdays or holidays.

The girls often commented, "Mommy is always on her computer." It was hard on all of us, at times, to sacrifice time together for the book. But my oldest daughter, who loves to read and write her own stories, did seem proud and in awe, saying, "Mommy is an author." As the book became more real to them, they seemed more and more excited that their mom was writing a real book.

After my copies of the book arrived, my toddler son pranced around the house clutching a copy to his chest, shouting, "Mommy wrote it! Mommy wrote it!" I don't know if he even really knew what it was or what he was saying, but it still made me smile to think that he was proud of me too. My girls know that they will get their own copies of the book, and I hope as they mature they will appreciate it and forgive me for the time I spent away from them in the writing of it.

And finally, to take advantage of the fact that we are friends and therefore I'm allowed to ask you whatever I want: I have to assume that writing, editing, and compiling 500 pages of words about pregnancy, childbirth, and parenthood made you a little baby-hungry. True?

Ha ha. Well, as you know, I became pregnant and gave birth to my fourth baby while writing/editing the book. So it's entirely possible that the book may have nudged me toward that conception. I have heard that reading the book has made some other women baby-hungry, even when they may have thought they were "done." I can't say I feel baby-hungry myself at present (still having my hands full of "babies"), but the book has definitely played a part in opening my heart to the possibility of welcoming more children than I had felt open to before. We shall see what the Lord has in store.


Visit The Gift of Giving Life site to sign up for their newsletter and to receive a free Meditation MP3 as well as tips to help increase spirituality in your pregnancy and birth.  


For my readers I have a coupon code for 10% off a copy of The Gift of Giving Life.   Click here and use coupon code GWFWXR3F. (This code is good until Father’s Day 2012.) (This is not a paid advertisement for The Gift of Giving Life. I even bought my own copy of the book. All opinions are my own.) 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

And now apparently things are about to get terrible

Dear Vivian,

You are two. Two! Your birthday was Sunday. You're two years old and will spend several minutes working to form your fingers into a peace sign when I ask you how many you are.

You are still tiny. I know lots of people with 6-month-old babies who weigh more than your twenty-one pounds. You're travel-sized! Fun-sized! For a miniature person, you pack a lot of punch, and I'm still surprised. You shock me every day when you talk and reason and carry on ridiculous little conversations with me. It's not like I didn't know this would happen; you're two, after all, and you're a person, and people talk. But still, it sneaked up on me. There's no way to prepare for it. No way to not be shocked when I ask you if you need a diaper change and you say, "Nope, dry, Mama!" Or when we're at the doctor's office and he asks me if you're talking yet just as you catch sight of his stethoscope and shriek "I don't want it!"

Wearing your sister-wife dress

For your birthday, we took you to see Toy Story 3 on Ice, in keeping with your passionate and abiding love for Woody and Buzz. You covered your eyes when Zurg came out and watched, enthralled, as your favorite characters skated by. You requested a "color green cake". You blew out your candles and clapped.


You can count to eight. You run everywhere within running distance, yelling "I go fast!" all the while. You feed Harvey ice cubes ("Harv like ice!") You roll your eyes. You are terrified of strange men. When your Papi gives you what you think is water but it turns out to be Sprite, you light up like a crackhead and gasp, "It's good soda!" You are obsessed with my camera and turn highly disgruntled when I take it away from you. "I need pickers!"

When asked where anyone is, you respond either with "work" or "school". You think Nana goes to school and Harv goes to work. I guess that's to be expected from a kid whose dad has two (and a half) jobs, and whose mom is taking eight university classes. For the most part, you deal with the chaos of life pretty well, and I hope you always will. I'm sorry that we don't always get to be with you. I miss you every time.

You are still nursing. Mostly so that we can ruin your uncle David's life by calling to ask him things like, "Hey, David, if a baby says 'thank you Mama' after breastfeeding, do you think she's too old for it?"

I have a couple of desperately sad A-cup bosoms and no small number of teeth marks to show for it, but I love nursing you. It's our thing. I love your little body curled around me, your tiny fingers in my hair, your smile when I make a funny face at you. I love when you pull me toward the "bosom chair", insisting that it's "boo time". Every day that passes, you are becoming less of me and more of you. You're a person of your own now, a wild and free spirit directing our household, a ball of opinions and indignation, a vocal, mobile, un-self-conscious little being. Nursing is the last thing that ties us together in that more-than-one-but-not-quite-two way. It's my lingering tie to your infancy, when you were always with me, when you slept cuddled against me, when your squishy little cheek rested against my neck and your hands always found mine. That part of our lives is over, but I'm reluctant to let it go. I simultaneously can't wait to watch you grow, and wish you never would.

The way we were

Viv, you're the light of my life. You are my sunshine, my favorite, my joy and my heartache. Someday I won't nurse you anymore, but I'll never not love you. I'll never not want to gather you up in my arms and kiss you and talk to you and laugh with you.

Love you, baby.

Mama


You got to see the beebee chickens with Uncle Wad (Rob) the other day and you loved them. What this video doesn't show: trying to get you to leave while you yelled "More! More chickens!"

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Safe

It's so late, and I can't get comfortable. I toss from side to side, curling and then straightening my legs, burrowing in the covers and then throwing them off. I huddle against Beau's back and then move away. I put my pillow over my head, then under it, then over again.

When I smooth the pillow with my hand, I discover that it's wet. I touch my face. It's wet too.

And then I know: I'm not trying to get comfortable. I'm trying to get safe. I'm trying to find a place in my bed where children aren't murdered by their fathers, where evil, selfish people can't take whatever they want and destroy everything that is precious.

There is no such place. Not in my bed and not in this world.

So I pray.

Susan, I hope your boys came to you quickly. I hope where they are now, their memories of the past life are quickly smothered by the warmth of your mother love, that the Light crowds out any darkness. I hope you have peace, now, where you're safe.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Things that happen when I watch 30 Rock

Listen, I got on the bandwagon late, mostly because I don't watch TV. I mean, I WATCH it - like HGTV and "What Not to Wear" reruns and Ellen when I remember, but I don't have shows, like people do. Shows I watch regularly and am caught up on. It's because I don't know how to run the DVR.

But a couple of months ago I was finally tired of hearing all the people talk about the greatness of 30 Rock, and also Beau read Bossypants and therefore was in complete agreement with me that Tina Fey is the shiz, so I looked it up and discovered it's on Netflix Instant. I recruited Beau after hours, we propped up the iPad on a pillow between us on the bed, and now here we are, 70-something episodes later. 

First thing. About ten episodes in I had a loud epiphany. "I am Liz Lemon!"

Beau: "Eh?"

"If I hadn't married you when I was still in training bras, I would be this weird, grunting, sandwich-obsessed, super awkward writer working for a show no one watches and dancing like a demented Oompa Loompa!"

"I'm so sorry to have ruined your dreams."

I know I am not the first or even the two-thousand-and-first woman to identify with Lemon, but seriously, we have a connection.

Second thing. I should have been keeping a list, but there are all these catchphrases I've been hearing around the Interwebs for the last few years, and Liz Lemon says them! So now I'm like, are these Lemonisms? "I want to go to there"? "Shut it down"? "What the what?" "Whuck"? "BY THE HAMMER OF THOR"? Did all of these fantasmic words originate with 30 Rock?

Third thing. Alec Baldwin. So remember when a few years ago Kim Basinger leaked that voicemail of Baldwin calling his daughter a pig? In a nasty man-yell? I am so glad I wasn't watching 30 Rock then. Because at the time, I was like, Alec Baldwin you complete ARSE. And I would have been so conflicted if I were watching 30 Rock then because he's great on 30 Rock. GREAT. Now, of course, I can just pretend that pig-yelling-man was someone else, a past incarnation of Alec Baldwin with deeply-rooted issues, and the portly Jack Donaghy I've fallen in love with is a new, reformed Alec Baldwin. EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE THE SAME ALEC BALDWIN. I have to compartmentalize my Baldwins or we'll never survive.

You probably want me to tell you my favorite episode now. I don't blame you, but alas, it would be like choosing my favorite cheese and I can't do that. (Brie, but only hot.) I can tell you this: biggest laugh out loud (I will not type the acronym, I WILL NOT DO THAT THING) moment for Beau and me both was when Pete mentions that his kids call him a bald wang in front of the babysitter. I seriously laughed out loud (DON'T SAY IT) just now as I typed that. See also: pretty much everything Tracy JordMorgan says, ever. And all the Kenneth. And the episode where Jack and Avery don't want a Canadian baby, holy BLARGH that was funny.

So here we are, Beau and I, staying up past our bedtime to watch episodes of this awesomely weird little show every night. I maintain that the show would not suffer without Jenna Maroney, because I hate her and want to punch her in the face, and Beau maintains that I have those visceral reactions because Jane Krakowski is doing such a great job and that Jenna is necessary. Will we ever agree? I think not. Will we call each other bald wangs until the day we die? We can safely assume yes.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sunday truths

If you're trying to teach someone the principle of doing things that are fun now, but having to face unpleasant consequences later, I can think of no better example than the nap. Nothing feels better than falling asleep in the middle of the day ... and nothing feels worse than waking up an hour (or three) later.

Mashed potatoes are like those superheroes who absorb everything and are strengthened by it. I'm convinced you could continue to add cream cheese, butter, salt, and half & half to mashed potatoes until the quantity of additions far exceeded the quantity of potatoes, and all you'd have is fantastic-tasting mashed potatoes.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Too much not enough time on my hands

Well. It's the end of November. I have nothing to say for myself other than ... nope. Nothing. I don't PoMo my NaBlo, turns out.

I do have a question. This has bothered me for some time, and I know we're not going to solve it here today. What we will instead achieve is you all being as bothered as I am. That's the only goal I really ever have in my life, to get everyone else confused so I'm not the only one.

The problem is words and their definitions. See below.

"horror" - bad scary thing
"terror" - bad scary thing

"horrible" - bad scary thing
"terrible" - bad scary thing

"horrified" - by a bad scary thing
"terrified" - of a bad scary thing

"horrific" - REALLY bad scary thing
"terrific" - really good nice thing people wrote in yearbooks in the '80s

THIS DRIVES ME CRAZY, so crazy that I may just reclaim terrific as the bad scary word it should be. From here on out you should not assume I'm being complimentary if I call you "terrific". Just keeping you on your toes.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My mind, it is going

Today, I drove into the automatic car wash with my window down.

Sadly, this is completely in keeping with my general state of forgetfulness and airheadedness and all-around stupidness.

You guys will visit me in the nursing home, right? When I'm forty?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

We keep him because he's funny

This is the last installment of me bringing you with my failed weaning drama.

We had lunch with Beau's parents on the Day of [No] Sucking, and I cried a bit. My mother-in-law commiserated with me, and then called the next day to check on us. Beau answered and she asked if I was doing better with the weaning.

"She fell off the wagon."

Indeed.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A big fat "never mind"

Can't do it.

Avoiding the infected bosom for now while I formulate a game plan.

Also, should probably still teach her to fall asleep without nursing.

Typing one-handed.

Thank you all so much for the nice words. Sorry for being a flake. I'm just winging it, you know. Aren't we all?

Over and out.