April 22, 2018

Why No Sleep for Moms?

Stillnox

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Moms don’t sleep, and on top of that they worry about not sleeping. Disturbed from restful nights by crying babes, and stressed by busy days they are turning to prescription meds to fight anxiety and insomnia.

“A 2007 study by the National Sleep Foundation found that nearly three in 10 U.S. women said they used a sleep aid a few nights a week. Experts said that stress and anxiety had made mothers dependent on sleep aids like Lunesta, melatonin, Ambien and even Xanax.” (ABC News)

No word on a study about dads. Maybe they slept through it.

The NYTimes reports:

“One of the cruel jokes of motherhood is that the sleeplessness of pregnancy, followed by the sleeplessness generated by an infant (a period in which a staggering — truly — 84 percent of women experience insomnia), is not followed by a makeup period of rest. It is merely the setup for what can become a permanent modus operandi.”

Is it another reason to not have kids? Or just part of the busy world we live in where we are over-scheduled, stressed out, and plugged in?

Hey WNKers do you have trouble sleeping? Do you reach for a “mother’s little helper” to get to sleep?

 

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Joys of Shopping with a Child

Watch this video if you’re considering having a kid!

Yes, it is Halloween and no, we shouldn’t be thinking about shopping — certainly not Christmas shopping — yet, but we are. Correction: I’m not thinking about it, but it’s by sheer force of will that I’m resisting.

The Halloween candy isn’t even off the racks yet, and my mailbox has been brimming with Christmas catalogs for over a week. I know the economy’s stuck in the ditch, but for the love of all that is spooky can we please hold off until after the jack-o-lanterns have rotted?!?!

I’m not a shopper, not a willing shopper, at least. Not in any conventional, recognizable-to-twenty-first-century-humans sense of shopping. Third world markets suit me well for brief photography forays, but Christmas shopping in October? Bah humbug!

So when you add dysfunctional minors into the equation, things are liable to get unhealthy quickly. And kids are synonymous with shopping. Though not always in markets… Or maybe they are less annoying and more intriguing when studied through a camera lens.

Happy Halloween!

Why I Said ‘Yes’ to Kids

Today’s guest post is from Ana June, a mother, wife, writer, photographer and jewelry artist living in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Tattoo (photo credit Christopher Riedel)

Tattoo (photo credit Christopher Riedel)

In the spring of 2008, I sat down late one night to write the first installment for a newspaper column I called Planet Mom. While my youngest son slept on the couch next to me, I stared out at the night sky and tried to conjure my muse. By midnight, I had it–a relatively clear, concise, and honest introduction to the life I live as a mother to four. (Full installment is here.) In it, I wrote the following:

“This act of mothering is life in the raw. There are moments that threaten to unhinge me, followed closely by those that offer a glimpse of enlightenment.”

Nearly 3 years later, the truth in this statement still holds. Being a mother, especially to a brood the size of mine, is absolutely dichotomous. It’s unhinging and enlightening, sometimes all at once!

Choosing to become a mother was, for me, a no-brainer. I always knew I would have children…. Furthermore, I always knew I wanted to have children. This desire must have been hardwired or something–I can’t explain it much better than that. Having children gave me so very much–the opportunity to lose myself and find myself… the thrill of finding and dancing on the very edge of my every possibility. Being a mother has made me more human, more frazzled, more fully alive, more tired, more fully in love, and more humble than anything else I have ever done.

That said, motherhood doesn’t define me entirely, and it shouldn’t. I am also a photographer, a writer, a graphic designer, and a jeweler, though not necessarily in that order at any given time. I own my own business, set my own hours, and have been turning a profit for several years now. Today, Wednesday, I am a writer and a jewelry maker. I am both writing this and babysitting my jewelry kiln as it sinters tin and copper into bronze (making two sets of custom wine charms!). Next to me, dull gray pendants that will soon metamorphose into fine silver await their turn in the fire. I am an alchemist.

I am also a traveler. I returned from a whirlwind trip to New York several days ago, where I was photographing a friend’s wedding. I was blissfully childfree for this journey, and it was awesome. It was awesome as well to come home and see my family again. A few years ago, I had the amazing opportunity to travel with my husband, kidfree, to Baja to shoot the Baja 1000 with and for a group of firefighters who ride for The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (the prelude to that story is here. I apparently never posted the actual story). In a nutshell, that adventure was awe-inspiring, remarkable, incredible…. fill in the blanks. But again, it was also awesome to come home and see my family again.

Family is the absolute ultimate for me, and of course that is defined in large part by my children. Because of this, I simply don’t see parenting as duty-driven more than I see it as motivated by a deep and abiding love. It is not a job, it is my heart.

I can’t and won’t sell it to anyone, however. It is not something to do unless you feel that undeniable drive within you to create a child. It is never something to take lightly. It should never be a should. It was absolutely never a should in my own life–in fact, quite the opposite, since I was very young when I got pregnant with my son. I chose to have my children when I did–Soren, who is now 17, was born three weeks after I turned 22. I birthed him at home, with a midwife, and when I looked into his little face for the very first time I saw God. This agnostic borderline-atheist truly and absolutely saw God. You see, God isn’t some big judgmental guy lurking about the heavens waiting to smite sinners or whatnot. No… God was the design of my son’s newborn face. God was his first cry.

And I can’t expect anybody else, not even my son’s father, to understand that moment like I did. That was my moment as a mother, and I was fortunate to have three more like it in the years that followed.

It was for moments like this that I became a mother. My decision to do so had very little to do with economics or leisure or opportunity for myself. It had everything to do with feeling and expressing a love that eludes definition. It wasn’t happy happy happy, but it wasn’t sad sad sad either. It ultimately isn’t any one thing. As I recently wrote in another post on my blog (full post here):

“…motherhood is the end-all-be-all of a woman’s existence…except when it isn’t. Motherhood will thresh your very soul and lift you to heights of joy you never thought possible… except when it doesn’t. Motherhood will sweep you up to the pinnacle of beauty…. except when it’s anything but beautiful. When you have shit on your hands because the baby decided to do gymnastics after you removed the stinky diaper and the phone is ringing and the dog is barking and the older kid is whining about cookies or some such… and the diaper pail is full and the room smells like digested green beans and you haven’t showered in two days and your breasts start leaking and then the baby pees all over the changing table and all the while you suspect, in a grim sort of way, that your mortgage check will bounce this month….

Nope, that’s not beautiful at all. Motherhood isn’t always anything except raw, demanding life. Base and beautiful humanity.”

And though it is a commitment, that sometimes makes you feel like you should be committed, it can be–should be?–one gleaming facet in a multifaceted life.

It should follow the sentiment I have tattooed on my upper left arm:

I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
(Alfred Lord Tennyson)

No matter what we choose in this life–parenthood or not–there will forever be more to explore, more to learn, more to love. Or at least, there should be. And that is the only should that I, personally, understand.

Postscript: For anybody who is still unsure about having a child, ask yourself this: if you attempted to place your coffee mug in the cup holder of your car, one frenetic morning, and found that the space was already occupied by a large piece of dusty, hairy, dessicated bacon left therein by one of your children (one of your teens, in fact!), how would you feel? Your answer to this may help clarify your child-bearing decision…. at least a little bit. 🙂

You can follow Ana June on her blog, Non Compos Mentis Mama, or visit her professional site, Ana June Creative.

Breeders vs. Non-Breeders

Promo shot for Last Splash

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Some people hate the term “breeder.”  Mostly it’s breeders that complain. To me a breeder is someone who chooses to have children and a non-breeder someone who does not. I’m a non-breeder and think it’s a funny title. You are welcome to call me a non-breeder even to my face. Also The Breeders happens to be the name of one of my favorite bands, so named because the term “breeders” is gay slang for heterosexuals. Interesting, right?


Urban Dictionary
has a slightly modified version of the term breeder:

1: slang term used by some childfree people for one who has a child and/or has many after that, refuses to discipline the child/ren, thinks the sun rises and sets for their child/ren, look down upon people who do not have children, and are in general very selfish and greedy when it comes to their whims and those of their child/ren, especially if they can use their parenthood status or their children as an excuse to get their way.

Okay. Ouch. That is not so nice. When did “breeders” become derogatory term against parents?  An alternative definition is  a person who breeds livestock or other animals or plants professionally. (That could be taken a couple of ways perhaps.) Apparently defining the word breeder is not that simple and a touchy subject for many including Renee from the blog www.womanist-musings.com:

“The main slur that has been directed at me from the LGBT community is the term breeder.  I understand that this a reaction to the fact that straight people constantly shame same sex couples for their inability to reproduce.  Though many straight couples spend a lifetime together and chose never to become parents, the biological impossibility of two women, or two men producing a child has been constructed as a negative.”

And on www.christianforums.com

“Are you aware that we parents are sometimes referred to as “breeders” by childfree people? It just made me sad, as I am one of those people who doesn’t judge couples for not wanting a child. That’s their decision, but why should we as parents be termed “breeders” because we decide to have children? The term is primarily use in reference to someone breeding animals! Really… I do find it offensive, and very hurtful.”

So why do we need labels like breeder, non-breeder, childfree, non-parent? Do names and labels hurt or discriminate? What do you think breeders and non-breeders? Are you loud and proud?

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Empty nest? Not all parents are sad about it

A hybrid travel trailer made by KZ Recreationa...
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Empty nest? Not all parents are sad about it – CBS News.

Parenting is a tough and thankless and endless job and there’s reason for empty nesters to be excited. You can take it from me. Travel, extra income, naps, dating your spouse rather than forming a partnership for child-rearing… all things that are worth celebrating, whether for a week,  a lifetime, or when the nest is empty. Empty nesters may be excited to rad about childfree retreats on WhyNoKids.com or look into peaceful travel opportunities at Childfree Travel

 

No twinges of sorrow in Bentonville, Ark, for mom of five Pamela Haven and her husband, Jeff. She has a recurring thought about life after the last of the brood — 17-year-old twin boys — graduate high school in June: “Thank God they weren’t triplets!”

Up next? “We’re booked on a cruise right after school ends, just the two of us. We’re purchasing a travel trailer, and we can’t wait to strip down the upstairs and repaint, carpet and make two guest rooms.”

Also looking forward to life after children is Jeanette Simpson, an interior designer in Lakewood Ranch, Fla. She has six kids (no boomerangers in the bunch) and the last is a high school senior.

“After 27 years of dealing with school schedules, and 33 years of kids at home, I’ll be an empty nester in less than a year,” she said. “With the last one, I feel almost guilty about not being overly saddened. I have a feeling of ‘job well done.'”

What’s she looking forward to the most? Traveling with her hubby without worry about school breaks and, “Time for myself, something that’s been rare since the first one came along.”

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Bad Parenting? Sue Your Parents!

Should mothers be sued for bad parenting?

We can all summon up moments when our parents went too far, or at least we were 100% certain at the time that they’d gone to far, in their parenting routines. Ah, the injustice!

As it turns out, two Illinois kids kept their resentment alive long enough to sue Kimberly Garrity for being a bad mother.

Garrity’s children, Steven Miner II, 23, and Kathryn Miner, 20, originally filed their suit against her two years ago, asking for more than $50,000 for emotional distress suffered during childhood due to Garrity’s alleged parental offenses, infractions such as sending her son a birthday card sans check, not dispatching care packages to him in college and insisting on a midnight curfew for her daughter during her high school’s homecoming. (TIME Healthland)

An Illinois appeals court dismissed the lawsuit, but Ms. Garrity who raised her children in a $1.5 million home outside Chicago is left to ponder her decision to conceive and raise two ungrateful.

Court records from Garrity said she was devastated at being publicly accused of “being an inadequate mother.” … In court papers, Garrity said she still loves her children, but she warned the public nature of the lawsuit would hurt them going forward. (CNN.com)

I guess the lesson to be learned here is not to spoil your fabulously rich kids rotten, because they’ll just grow up and sue for not spoiling them rotten enough. Kids these days. (Above the Law)

But reflection and regret are only half of Garrity’s reward. She also has the pleasure of paying for her legal representation.

“It would be laughable that these children of privilege would sue their mother for emotional distress, if the consequences were not so deadly serious for (Garrity),” Garrity’s attorney, Shelley Smith, wrote in court documents. “There is no insurance for this claim, so (Garrity) must pay her legal fees, while (the children) have their father for free.” (Today People)

Gawker weighed in with a curious twist:

What the judges seem to have overlooked is how their ruling now opens the floodgates to parents who wish to say no to their children, which will be more corrosive to our society in the long-run. (Gawker.com)

Not sure I follow this concern. Aren’t parents supposed say no? Sometime? Maybe even often? Or was I terribly mistreated? I can feel the emotional distress bubbling up across the years… Lawyer!

Related articles

Kid Leash?

Kid Leash? I just walked past this little scenario at Dulles International Airport!
Kid Leash?

I just walked past this little scenario at Dulles International Airport!

I’m en route from the Adirondacks to the Sangre de Cristos. You follow me so far? Exit Essex; enter Taos. Only, the transition’s not that slick…

First there was a ferry ride across Lake Champlain. Spectacular! Warm, breezy and bluebird skies. Then there was a leisurely picnic with my bride near Burlington, Vermont. At the edge of a pond. With cattails. And dragonflies. Perfect. Then a smooth flight to Dulles with a fascinating seat mate who’s sailing through the Mediterranean then across the Atlantic and around the Caribbean with her husband. The flight vanished instantly. So far, so good.

Then a layover at Dulles waiting for the flight to Albuquerque. Dinner. A walk. And then this. A pet child being taken for a walk! I’ve seen it on ski slopes. I’ve heard of it in malls. But a father walking his son on a leash? Never before. Still processing it. Good? Bad? Ugly?

Update: I posted a reddit link to this post (“Kid Leash: A father walking his son like a pet Pomeranian… Good? Bad? Ugly?”) which has generated some of the expected reactions, but also a few frustrated/angry commenters. For the record, I wasn’t excoriating the man in the picture above or users of baby leashes in general. I was surprised. And I asked readers to share their reactions. Turned out to be a more sensitive topic than I anticipated, provoking some defensive emotions. But mostly some interesting conversation. And a link to Gadling’s “Dont use baby leashes” with a video that ties in nicely!

But wait, there’s more! If you’re still trying to make up your mind if baby leashes are good, bad or ugly, then here’s another little scenario to set your gray matter gears in motion. Or your emotion in motion…

A woman was in last week with her one year old son. He was wearing one of those child leashes disguised as a cute monkey back pack, you know where the tail is the leash? … his mom wanted to try on shoes so she tied him to the sale rack. Yes, she TIED him to the sale rack… The sale rack is near our handicap ramp, which all kids think is a playground. So naturally the baby wanted to play on it. He heads for ramp and almost gets there but he’s leashed, so he starts to stretch. He makes it to the rail and starts trying to flip over it to get to the ramp. He’s so close yet so far, and this is so dangerous because the sale rack could fall on him if he gets any further… (Awful little monkeys)

The subsequent conversation between sales supervisor and mother is less startling to me that the scenario itself.

For the record, I well recognize the merits of a leash. In fact, it’s occurred to me that an adult version could be marketed to husbands/wives with a tendency to wander! But I’m also inclined to see a dehumanizing quality in a leashed baby or spouse. Perhaps it is primarily symbolic, but a leash seems like a convenient way to circumvent the sort of “hands on” parenting that ideally nurtures and educates and guides a child during these formative years. It replaces a verbal, tactile and cognitive guidance with a merely physical surrogate. I’m not a psychiatrist, nor do I pretend expertise in infant development, so I’m not denouncing the use of people leashing. Certainly those wiser than I will set me straight!

Fatherhood Diminishes Testosterone

Caveman Training

Image by hall.chris25 via Flickr

According to a study reported in the New York Times and delicately recapped in The Art of Manliness, dads suffer from diminished testosterone.

after a man has a kid, his testosterone levels drop, and the more involved he gets in child-rearing, the lower his T levels fall… This reduction in testosterone is thought to help men commit to their families and stick around to rear their progeny. (Fatherhood Leads to a Drop in Testosterone)

In a big-picture kind of way, I get it. By the time junior arrives on the scene testosterone has already put in a hard day at the office. It is largely responsible for making a man big, strong and virile which may (or may not) be why a woman is drawn to him. Testosterone is also tied to aggressive behavior, ostensibly valuable for courtship and defending the female from other aggressive suitors. And then there’s that testes part, also important if junior is going to get started. And then suddenly, testosterone is less relevant. In fact, it might even get in the way. Time to cut the T levels so daddy can focus on hearth, home and juniors. No more chest thumping or wayward adventures. No need for testes. Time to change diapers and make airplane noises while trying to plug rubber-edged spoonfulls of mush into junior’s mouth. And then clean it up from his chin. And the floor.

the more he gets involved in caring for his children — changing diapers, jiggling the boy or girl on his knee, reading “Goodnight Moon” for the umpteenth time — the lower his testosterone drops. (In Study, Fatherhood Leads to Drop in Testosterone)

Perhaps the perfect papa is virtually testosterone-free? This study might generate interesting hypotheses about men’s mid-life crises. Kids are packed off to college and Viagra is floating around. Maybe long hibernating T levels start to awaken…

But, fathers, take note. Subgrade testosterone levels don’t make you a wimp. Really.

“Unfortunately,” Dr. Ellison added, “I think American males have been brainwashed” to believe lower testosterone means that “maybe you’re a wimp, that it’s because you’re not really a man. “My hope would be that this kind of research… would make them realize that we’re meant to be active fathers and participate in the care of our offspring. (In Study, Fatherhood Leads to Drop in Testosterone)

Active fathers, yes. Wimps, no. Sensitive, caring, nurturing dads who are less likely to be distracted by that sexy new associate who joined the firm. Which isn’t to say that your mojo’s totally shot, just diminished. A bit…

The lowering of their testosterone did not prevent the men in the study from having more children. “You don’t need a lot of testosterone to have libido,” Dr. Kuzawa said.

“If guys are worried about basically, ‘Am I going to remain a guy?’” Dr. Worthman said, “we’re not talking about changes that are going to take testosterone outside the range of having hairy chests, deep voices and big muscles and sperm counts. These are more subtle effects. (In Study, Fatherhood Leads to Drop in Testosterone)

So you can keep your bark, but you might lose your bite. Or something. Go, dads!

Bold, Brave or Belligerent?: Roseanne Barr (Mother of 5) Bashes Baby Making (on TV)

Roseanne's outfit (from magazine)

Image by Alan Light via Flickr

From Roseanne’s Nuts on Lifetime:

Roseanne Barr: “The most out-there thing I’m saying is, ‘Don’t have babies. Don’t get married and have kids. Have a larger life than that.’”

Roseanne Barr’s (grown) son: “You have five kids! You can’t talk about that. You have five!”

Roseanne Barr: “I know I do, that’s why I have the right to say it! If somebody would come to me when I was sixteen years old and go, ‘You don’t have to get married or have a baby, that’s bullshit!’ I would have fuckin’ flipped! Cause I never heard one human say anything like that. I was so brainwashed to have five kids for the Jewish Nation. And now I’m like, wow, that wasn’t even my own life!

Check out the complete Nuts conversation with Roseanne Barr and other posts on Happily Childfree » Blog Archive » As Seen On TV

 

Get Your Freakon(omics)!: “The Economist’s Guide to Parenting”

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Freakonomics » Freakonomics Radio, Hour-long Episode 2: “The Economist’s Guide to Parenting”.

Unless you have a lot of time to geek out on Freakonomics, you can skip the radio show and just skip to the text below. Taken from a transcript of the show, this exchange serves as an appropriate follow-up to the Freakonomics on fatherhood post. According to these economists, the increase in parenting duties for college-educated mothers, and the cause, is even more freaky/intriguing:

RAMEY: So, in the 1980’s, the average, young, college-educated mother spent thirteen hours per week on childcare.

DUBNER: That’s Valerie Ramey again. She and her husband Gary, also an economist, analyzed data from the American Time Use Survey.


RAMEY: Now, it’s 22 hours a week. So, the amount of time has increased by nine hours a week.

DUBNER: Nine hours. So, that’s about a seventy percent increase, that’s a huge increase.

RAMEY: It’s a huge increase.

RAMEY: Now, what’s interesting is over this same time period, the wages of college-educated women have really increased. So, the opportunity cost of time has increased at the same time they’ve decided to spend more time taking care of their children.

DUBNER: So, to an economist, like you, that has to be a little bit baffling, yes?

RAMEY: Yes, it is a puzzle.

DUBNER: After declining for decades, the amount of time that parents spent on childcare started to rise in the 1990’s and then skyrocketed in the 2000’s, especially among college-educated moms. Why? The Rameys found a surprising answer: college. Specifically: the increased competition for kids to get into good colleges. These high-end parents weren’t simply babysitting; they were chauffeuring their kids to the kind of extracurricular activities that look good on a college application. The Rameys called it the rug-rat race. You want to know the strangest part? Valerie Ramey was a prime offender — until her family put a stop to it.

 

 

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