Saturday, May 31, 2008

Soliciting baby advice

It seems that lately we've hit a really sweet spot in going to Mass; booga bear, whom I'm transitioning into calling big bear, is consistently well-behaved. He stands on the kneelers and smiles at people. He's recently started sticking out his hand to people when we pass the peace, and he occasionally 'joins in' the singing, although often after the song is over. I've caught him making the sign of the cross several times when the priest says 'let us pray', and there's always graham crackers and his little hot-wheels trucks to keep him happy.

So I've really been enjoying Mass because I'm able to focus. Then I realized yesterday that soon I'm going to have a newborn to take to Mass, and things probably won't be so peaceful anymore. I'm thinking I might try a different approach to parenting though. With big bear, we really trained him to sleep in the bassinet and then his crib. By the time he was 8 weeks old, he was falling asleep on his own very easily in his crib. But, this meant that he didn't like to sleep outside of his crib. We were always trying to figure out which Mass would work best for him by scheduling around his naps and feeding, but it seemed like Mass was always during nap time, and I couldn't just hold him and let him fall asleep, because he wouldn't fall asleep. This juggling, of course, applied to all outings; trips to grandma's house, going out to eat, etc.

I'm thinking of doing more attachment parenting this time around-carrying new little brother around in a sling more often for naps and letting him nurse to sleep. With big bear, we followed the Baby Whisperer's advice and woke him when he fell asleep nursing, supposedly forcing him to learn to fall asleep on his own at a young age. It actually worked, BUT it meant that for the first two months or so of big bear's life, I often found myself patting his back for 25 minutes or so while he screamed in his bassinet, eventually quieting down and falling asleep. I don't even know if I could do that now that I have a toddler to keep tabs on as well! I probably won't be able to, but I'm a little apprehensive to deviate from what we did before, because, as my husband is always pointing out, for the most part big bear has always been a great sleeper after his initial 'induction phase' of Baby Whisperer parenting. As long as he was at home, in his crib, that is. I just think I might want some more flexibility this time around.

So parents, I realize this question of baby-on-a-schedule or not is probably pretty talked out, but what do you think? Does it matter in the long run whether or not you 'train' a newborn to fall asleep on their own? Did I completely waste my time?

Friday, May 23, 2008

moody housecleaning fool

I think I've hit the point of my pregnancy officially taking over my life. These days, I'm always aware that someone else is with me. I plan my walks around the possibility that I might have to pee somewhere along the way. Throughout the day, when I change positions (especially when I get up from our smooshy couch), I feel like someone should shout 'heave-ho!'. And besides my mood swings, my brain is working, well...differently. I've become extremely forgetful. Last week, I forgot to go to a doctor's appointment, and I almost never forget a date and a time-I carry a mental calendar with me at all times. I went to the store specifically to get cumin, but the cumin never made it to the check out; I left the little bag sitting on the counter in the bulk spice section. In desperate need of caffeine, I went to buy a soda at the gas station and realized after the clerk rang me up that I had left all my cash in the pocket of the pants I wore earlier in the day. This was after I drove past the gas station I had originally intended to stop at, but forgot.

Mostly, I just don't feel right unless I'm doing something practical. Yesterday I went to the bookstore to hang out and read, but I couldn't concentrate on anything. Everything I picked up seemed like gibberish, and I wondered, is this what it feels like to be stupid? Right there in the middle of Barnes & Noble, I started to feel genuinely sorry for people who don't read well. Even magazines couldn't hold my interest; I flipped through an interior design magazine but became immensely annoyed with the enlarged quotes, "James and Evelyn tore down their 60's tract house and replaced it with this bold, modern structure" Lovely for you, J & E, but tell me, what is the point of your superficial life? I found washing the dishes tonight to be very satisfying, and I'm actually kind of looking forward to vacuuming out my car this week. I remember wanting to tackle all sorts of household chores towards the end of my pregnancy with booga-bear, but this feels more extreme, this is me ready for motherhood on steroids. Or something like that.

I started to look up pregnancy hormone levels out of curiosity, and then thought, what a waste of time-I don't need any graphs to show me that I'm off-the-charts hormonal right now, I'm already fully aware of the fact. Plus, numbers and I have never been the best of friends and certainly are not now. So, little man hitching a ride inside, I'm fully looking forward to the tapering off of whatever wild cocktail you have caused to circulate in my blood and would appreciate your timely arrival. I miss myself.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Quotable Monday

"All human beings should try to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why."

-James Thurber, 1894-1961, US author, cartoonist, satirist

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

He knows more than I think

Booga bear has started doing something really sweet. The other evening my husband, the boisterous one, decided that we should sing the Gloria together... this actually happens on a semi-regular basis. And you have to admit, it's kind of catchy and conducive to singing loudly. So we sat around singing, and booga bear kind of joined in. The funny part is that now, whenever he notices a cross or an icon he takes to be Jesus, he starts 'singing' loudly in his own toddler language. This morning he picked up a prayer card that has an image of Jesus on the front, and he carried it around the house singing. This afternoon, we passed an Episcopal church on our walk and he pointed and said 'Jesus' and started in on his singing.

I'm not sure how he has made these connections- the Gloria has the word Jesus in it, but it doesn't seem it would be entirely obvious to a toddler that the song is about Jesus. I think the cross on the roof caught his attention at the church, and since he has exposure to crucifixes, that makes a little more sense to me, but still...I'm impressed. I've often wondered when the spiritual training of a child really starts, but I guess it already has. Apparently the concept of Jesus is already beginning to soak in, which is a blessing.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Quotable Monday

"If the thing we fear most is sin, then we will not fear death much, for after death we will no longer be able to sin."

-Peter Kreeft, philosopher,"Perfect Fear Casts Out All "LUV"

Thursday, May 8, 2008

I'm Guilty

I've been trying to figure out sin lately; specifically, how guilty I should allow myself to feel over the sins I commit. I've been wondering what the proper attitude is toward my sin. I don't want to treat the acts I do in opposition to the will of God lightly, at the same time I don't want to wallow in self-absorption, disregarding that Christ has freed me from the bondage of sin.

There have been several times over the last year or so that I have wanted to go to confession multiple times in a row, but I've had a niggling feeling that I shouldn't. That if I go, I'll be wasting the priest's time by confessing just one or two major sins of the week, or that it's proof I'm too hung up on guilt. Moreover, it's embarrassing to show up two weekends in a row! Or even worse, to call and make an appointment for confession -I've not worked up the nerve to do this yet. I've found that after I go to confession, during the following week I will commit a sin serious enough to make me want to go running back to the confessional the next weekend, but I hang back because I just went. I don't want to admit to myself or anyone that I might need to go to confession every week. Now that I'm a person who is required to go to confession, it's Really, Really Annoying to not be able to grow up spiritually as I desire and stop sinning. Popping into the confessional and saying "guilty!" is no fun.

Sorrow over my sin, at least regular sorrow, feels like a new element in my life, but I don't know exactly what to do with it. Forgive yourself! Move on! seems to be a popular attitude, but the problem is that I sin again, and am back to where I started almost instantly. There are so many virtues I'd love to have, and have constantly, but they always seem to be slipping through my fingers whenever I manage to get a hold of one for an instant. Unfortunately, as a human I am destined to forever sin, and thus it also seems a realistic expectation to constantly be in a state of anguish over my sinfulness. I'm not sure I'm okay with this.

I've been trying to read more about the saints lately, and some of their acts of penance are quite disturbing; many inflicted much hardship on their bodies. My husband mentioned the other day that St. Birgitta of Sweden was known to have dropped hot wax from candles onto herself so that she always bore scars on her body. I cringed and said "why would someone do something like that? It seems so pointless!" He responded that Peter Kreeft says we shouldn't be appalled at the sorrow of saints over their sin, but rather we should be appalled at how lightly we take God's forgiveness (wish I had a citation for this). And I'm still a bit disturbed, but that statement shed a lot of light for me. If I don't disdain my sin, the very acts that separate me from God, then how can I claim to love him with all my heart? I may have confidence that the eternal consequence of my sin, hell, has been lifted from me, but I still have to suffer the immediate consequence; a damaged relationship with God. More and more, I do not want a damaged relationship with God.

So I guess it's okay to mourn the losses in my relationship with God by 'wallowing' a bit in anguish over my sin, because really, what I want most in life, or what I aspire to want most in life, is fellowship with God. If the saints felt the need to self-impose suffering on themselves with the same idea, okay then. I think I'm starting to understand--separation from God is a sorrowful thing. And really, I shouldn't be ashamed to admit this by being a regular at confession. Or by doing the dreaded deed, calling and making an appointment. Not fun, but appropriate.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Quotable Monday

"A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it."

- from "Everlasting Man", G.K. Chesterton, 1874-1936 English writer, eventual Catholic convert

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Abortion & Indian sex-selection

Excerpts from a recent NY Times article, Indian Prime Minister Denounces Abortion of Females, my own thoughts follow;

"In his first speech on the subject, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh highlighted an “alarming” decline in the number of girls for every 1,000 boys in India, slipping to 927 in 2001 from 962 in 1981, according to the latest census figures. “This indicates that growing economic prosperity and education levels have not led to a corresponding mitigation in this acute problem,” he said.

“No nation, no society, no community can hold its head high and claim to be part of the civilized world if it condones the practice of discriminating against one half of humanity represented by women,” Mr. Singh said, giving an inaugural speech at a national conference dedicating to “saving the girl child,” which brought together politicians, doctors and advocates."

"Over past three decades, the increasing availability of ultrasound equipment has assisted India’s cultural preference for sons and distorted the sex ratio across the nation. As the equipment has become more affordable, special ultrasound clinics have opened even in the most impoverished parts of the country."

I found this article thought-provoking. Without knowing Singh's views on abortion as a whole, I found his denunciation of the practice of aborting females interesting because there is no claim that abortion itself is wrong, only that it is wrong to discriminate between the sexes. Abortion really isn't the main issue, it's discrimination against females. The article goes on to explain that girls are often seen as a liability because when they are married, the groom is entitled to a large dowry. Also, men tend to be the ones who take care of their parents in old age.

I can see how an issue like this could put a pro-choicer in a moral quandary, especially if they have strong feminist ideology. I'm sure if I were of the feminist pro-choice mindset I would see sex-selection by parents as reprehensible, a case of patriarchal society at its worst. But if I truly believed that abortion is always a personal decision every woman should be allowed to make on a case by case basis, then why shouldn't every woman be able to decide whether or not she can afford to raise a daughter? What if she really wants a child, but knows that she will never be able to scrape together a dowry? How is this really any different from any woman deciding she can't undertake the 'burden' of raising a child, regardless of gender, because of the financial stress it would entail. Certainly countries should not pass laws banning abortions done to avoid economic distress, to do so would be an invasion of privacy. (75% of women who obtain abortions cite financial inability to care for the child as one reason).

There are so many parallels that can be drawn from this issue of discriminating against a certain type of human. 90% of the unborn diagnosed with down-syndrome are aborted in the US. This must be a sickening fact to those living with down-syndrome and to the families and friends of those with down-syndrome. I don't think it would be incredible to demand that laws be passed against discrimination towards the unborn diagnosed with genetic abnormalities or other disabilities. But to a pro-choice person, it all comes down to a personal decision that no one else has the right to intrude upon. Lovely.