Learning to Love Again. Every Day.

momma in me

When they are babies it is easy.

You rock them; you cradle them. You hold them; you kiss them. You do it out of pure love.

You do what a mama is designed to do.

You feed them and burp them and keep them alive and breathing. You check on them and worry over them and fuss over them.

Is she eating enough? Is she sleeping enough? Why isn’t she sleeping? Why is she sleeping so much?

Is she happy? Is she suffering?

We wonder and worry and love, love, love.

But they don’t give much in those early days.  Just their gentle sighs and their smiles in their sleep.

They don’t say, “I love you.” They don’t reach out to hold you and hug you.

But you keep giving.

You do it because you love them. You do it out of love.

They don’t talk and give back in the way that one normally gets back love, but you love them nonetheless.

But as they get older this changes.

Your little baby is no longer a baby, she’s a toddler.

And then that little toddler is gone and in its place is a little fresh preschooler.

And with each change you learn to love again. You learn to love in a different way.

Just last week my little girl was wrapping her arms around my neck as hard as she could. She’d whisper in my ear, “I love you soooooooo much….” And I’d say it back. “I love you soooooo much…” and then I’d wrap myself up into the warmth beside her and drink up that love.

But she doesn’t do this today. She no longer wraps her arms around my neck and says “I love you sooooo much” like she did just yesterday.

In one week that has changed.

Today, I whisper to her, “Who loves you more than anybody in the whole wide world?”

“Mama,” she says, without missing a beat.

“And who do you love more than anything in the whole wide world?” I ask. “Dada,” she says.

My heart skips a beat. What do I say?

And just for a moment, out of my own need, I test the waters.

“You don’t love mommy?”

Of course she does. She loves us both, she says.

Her idea and expressions of love are changing and with that I must change to.

She’s speaking now, thinking, loving with her mind, not just her heart.

Love is no longer an unadulterated instinct that wells up from within her and springs forward out into my arms. It’s a thought and a decision and a test.

She’s maturing.

The irony is that where she needed me more in the past, I am growing to love her more with every day that passes.

And with every day that my love grows deeper and stronger, she is moving a little bit away from that precious, sweet love made strong by the mommy umbilical cord.

So I need to learn to love all over again. I need to learn to love the way that she needs it and want to.

With each passing day, I need to learn to love again.

Learn to love again.

Every day.

Visiting the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and Discovering “The Learning Center”

IMAG0258

I’ve been to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum many times since I moved to Minnesota but today was the first time I’ve been to The Learning Center. The play areas reminded me a little bit of the outdoor play areas of Wood Lake Nature Center and the Tamarack Nature Center. As far as young children go, this was probably the best of the three!

IMAG0265

I was amazed and surprised at all I’ve been missing out on! They have beautiful outdoor spaces for toddlers and preschoolers and a garden where summer camp kids grow vegetables.

Inside they were having a special event and activities related to bees. We spent half the day at The Learning Center alone!

Inside the greenhouse. The little butterfly hat was an art project they had set up for the kids to enjoy.

IMAG0291 IMAG0293 IMAG0287

Flowers in the greenhouse.

 IMAG0284 IMAG0286

IMAG0285

The children are spraying the plants in the greenhouse with water bottles provided by the arboretum for visitors to use.

IMAG0279

IMAG0272

In honor of “Bee Day” they had a bee costume for kids to try on.

IMAG0270

Some sort of bird house in one of the four outdoor areas surrounding the Center.

IMAG0269

The first free outdoor lending library and outdoor reading area I’ve ever seen. There was a canopy of crabapple trees and birdfeeders all around. More nature play objects as well.

IMAG0264

Enjoying one of the books on birds and the sheltered reading area.

IMAG0268

IMAG0263

Each outdoor space as items for the children to use and to enjoy. Most of the items for creative play were items found in nature.

I think the children enjoyed this table the most. They painted slices of tree trunks with paintbrushes and water.

IMAG0251

IMAG0250

IMAG0259

IMAG0249

IMAG0252 IMAG0260

An interesting crawl space/fort made of iron stakes and some sort of mesh-like burlap.

IMAG0253

IMAG0254 

This area had a water spout and PVC tubes to build waterways.

IMAG0257

IMAG0261-1

“The Capital View Cafe”: A Hidden Brunch Gem in St. Paul, MN

IMAG0247-1-1-1

I love “The Capital View Cafe,” a local diner/restaurant located on the outskirts of downtown St. Paul, MN. And more importantly I loved the mommy/daughter brunch we had there today. It’s warm and cozy; the staff are nice; and everyone appreciated my daughter’s unique sense of style and self expression. Plus, the kid’s meal consisted of a HUGE plate of eggs, bacon, pancake, and a drink for the low price of $5.00. Can’t beat it. We’ll be back. We LOVE pancakes.

IMAG0226-2

IMAG0238-1

IMAG0244-1-1-1  IMAG0243-1-1 IMAG0240-1

IMAG0242-1

IMAG0239-1-2-1-1

IMAG0229-2

 

IMAG0224-1-1

 

Just Show Up: A Love Story

Below is a story of a woman who suffered from Postpartum Depression (PPD) after the birth of her child. I posted this story because when I read it I was deeply and intimately reminded of the first few months of my child’s life as I, too, suffered from PPD. I have read many accounts of woman with PPD but this story is the one that has resonated with me the most. I felt that same desire to run away. I lived the anxiety, the fear, the guilt, and the deep shame at not feeling the way I was “supposed” to feel. I placed the picture of me to the right of her because I was immediately reminded of the picture of me and my newborn when I looked at her picture. I remember feeling so lost, sad and empty and not knowing why. The thing I had wished for most had finally come true and yet I was at the lowest point in my life. I thank her for sharing her story.

Joy with her son shortly after he was born momma in me

http://www.parents.com/baby/health/postpartum-depression/just-show-up-a-love-story/

Just Show Up: A Love Story

For months, I felt no connection whatsoever to my newborn son. Then one day an idea took hold that changed everything.
By Joy Peskin from Parents Magazine
Trying to remember the exact moment I fell in love with my son, Nathaniel, is hard. It might have been when he appeared to be listening intently as I read him my favorite book from childhood, The Velveteen Rabbit. It might have been during the walk when he reached out from his baby carrier and grabbed my finger. But I know for sure that it wasn’t the first time I held my child — and the shock I felt at not experiencing the rush of love I had anticipated upon becoming a mother was staggering.Even though I had a cesarean section, I still expected to see Nathaniel right away. I imagined he’d be lifted over the curtain and placed onto my chest. He’d open his eyes, and we’d look at each other, and the collective wisdom of generations of mothers who had come before me would beam into my heart.Instead, my son and I had our first meeting in the recovery room at the hospital, hours after his birth. My parents and my husband were there. A nice nurse kept asking me where I was on the pain scale from one to ten. Someone handed the baby to me at some point, but the memory is elusive, just beyond my reach.

The last thing I recall clearly was being in the operating room. The baby had just been delivered, but he wasn’t crying yet; the nurses were still clearing out his mouth. I was shaking violently, either from fear or from all the drugs that had been pumped into my system. I begged the anesthesiologist to do something for my nausea. Before she added another drug to my IV, I heard a nurse asking my doctor the reason for the C-section, presumably for hospital paperwork. “It’s late and I wanted to go home,” he said. I suppose he was joking, but after 36 hours of labor, I wasn’t really in the mood to laugh.

In the blurry weeks that followed, I went over the events of that day in my mind like a crime-scene investigator, trying to figure out exactly when something had gone horribly wrong. Because something was clearly horribly wrong. When I held Nathaniel, I felt a pounding, all-consuming anxiety. One word thrummed through my head like a drumbeat: escape. I wanted to put Nathaniel in his crib, walk out the door, and never come back. When we took him for his first checkup, I sincerely hoped the doctor would see that I was not up for the challenge of motherhood and allow us to leave the baby there.

What kind of mother was I? What kind of person was I? You’re a monster, I told myself. A monster who doesn’t love her own child. It didn’t make sense. I had always thought of myself as the kind of woman who was born to be a mother. But here I was, desperately plotting my escape from the role I had craved most in life.

When my husband took pictures of me with the baby, I tried to force my face into a smile, but my eyes told the truth. They were flat and empty. My voice sounded like it was coming from down a long tunnel. I had no appetite. Food tasted wrong.

A few friends suggested that I might have postpartum depression, but I didn’t think so. That felt like a crutch, an excuse. Besides, I wasn’t crying all the time. I wasn’t crying at all. I was just sitting there, either numb or panicking, incapable of doing anything right. I wasn’t sick. I was useless.

I can’t do this. I won’t do this. These words ran through my mind day after day, hour after hour, minute after minute. Every time the phone rang, I hoped it was someone calling to rescue me. Friends came and visited, but they always left. “Take me with you,” I remember begging one of them. I tried to pretend I was joking, but I wasn’t.

I was feeling worse after a few weeks, so I called a psychopharmacologist I had seen a few years back. She was straightforward and told me that with the right medication, I would feel just like my old self. I didn’t believe her. My old self was gone — I was sure of that.

I went back to a therapist I had seen before my marriage, but she had become, over time, more a friend than a counselor. I was ashamed for her to see me in my current state. I went once and didn’t return.

Next I tried an old-school psychoanalyst. Dr. Freud, as my husband called him, was warm and reassuring, but he wanted to talk about my childhood and I wanted to focus on the present. By this point, Nathaniel was more than 2 months old. I feared that if I didn’t get better soon, I’d never bond with him. Also, my maternity leave was coming to an end. I needed to take a more aggressive approach.

A friend had given me the phone number of a postpartum-depression hotline, and I carried it with me for weeks before I got up the nerve to call. When I finally did, a kind woman assured me that I did have PPD, and that it was surmountable. The other doctors I had seen told me that too, but she was the first one I really believed. She told me she heard women say exactly what I was saying all the time. I had felt so alone in my dark, ugly thoughts, but she had personally talked to other women who had gone through exactly what I was going through. They had gotten better, and I would get better too.

The woman from the hotline suggested a therapist specializing in PPD. When I called her, she told me that the fact that I experienced guilt over my negative feelings about motherhood was a good sign. It meant I didn’t want to feel that way. And she told me she had also had PPD, and she had gotten over it and had gone on to have a second child. On my first visit, she gave me her personal copy of Brooke Shields’s book about postpartum depression, Down Came the Rain. After reading the book and with the therapist’s counseling, I started to feel better. I went back on the antidepressant I’d been taking before I got pregnant, which made a big difference.

And something else helped me too: a line from an article I read about Rosanne Cash. When describing her work ethic, she said, “Just show up. Just do it. Even if you feel like s— and you think you’re terrible and you’ll never get better and it will never go anywhere, just show up and do it. And, eventually, something happens.” That spoke to me. I felt like a terrible mother and I didn’t know what I was doing. I couldn’t figure out which cry meant “I’m hungry” and which meant “I’m tired.” I couldn’t get the baby wrap to work. I didn’t know how often to bathe him, or when to put him down for a nap, or whether to put him in pajamas or to let him sleep in a diaper. I was sure that if left alone in my care, he would die. But when my mind started with its refrain of I can’t do this, I won’t do this, I thought of that quote from Rosanne Cash. Just show up, I told myself instead. Just do it. So I did. And she was right: Something happened. I started to get the hang of it.

I turned a corner when Nathaniel was 3 months old and I returned to work. I love my job, so going back to it — and going back to my pre-baby routine — made me happy. Ultimately, I rediscovered my confidence, which had felt as if it had been put into a car, driven into the middle of the desert, and set on fire.

It took me a while to come to terms with what happened during the earliest days of my child’s life. More than once, I’ve found myself wishing I had known him when he was first born. And of course that’s foolish, because I was right there. But also, I wasn’t. To see us together these days, you’d never know. When he smiles my heart bursts, like fireworks, into a thousand tiny stars. I love nothing more than snuggling with him or reading to him. And I guess I’ll never understand exactly what went wrong, whether I was traumatized by the C-section, or if I experienced some sort of hormonal crash, or if people with my type A personality — those of us who like to do things perfectly on the first try, who like to be in control — are just destined for a certain degree of panic when we become mothers and lose control of absolutely everything. I thought I would fall in love with my baby the first time he was in my arms. But that didn’t happen. It couldn’t happen until the thing that broke in me when he came into the world was fixed. But I love him now, boundlessly and without reservation. And maybe in the end what matters most isn’t the moment we fall in love, but what we do with that love once it takes hold.

My Four Year Old’s Art Studio

IMAG0085-2

Here’s my little artist. She loves to paint and asks me to paint several times a week. You’ll notice she is rinsing her brush in a ceramic cup. After getting them in and out of hall closet so many times I decided to keep them in the cupboard you see in the background. I put a painting shirt, art rags to dry her brushes on, the box of brushes and the cup in that cupboard. She can get the cup out and fill it with water; get out her towels and her paint shirt. That leaves less for me to do when she asks to paint. Her paint shirt was in the wash so she’s wearing an over the head bib made out of a dishcloth that she got from her grandma as a baby.

The acrylics below I got on Ebay.

IMAG0072

The canvases I also bought on Ebay in bulk.

IMAG0086-1

The Elmo drop cloth keeps clean up nice and easy and avoids paint on the rug. Notice the table she is working on. It was originally a train table that I made for her but now it is her arts and crafts table. It’s good because it is close to the floor so there is less for me to monitor when she is working on something.

IMAG0076

“Humanimal” at the Open Eye Figure Theatre: Limited Time. You GOTTA Go!

alt

Kevin Kling is AMAZING. He’s funny, smart, creative, thought-provoking and he’s a story teller. Add to that two amazing cellists and one out of this world singer/performer and you have yourself a night at the theater.

And not just any theatre but the “Open Eye Figure Theatre” in South Minneapolis.

Go online NOW to get your tickets. You will not be disappointed.

FROM THEIR WEBSITE:

“Kevin Kling, nationally known storyteller and Artist-in-Residence at Minnesota Public Radio, returns this August to the Open Eye stage for the seventh consecutive year. Since 2007, Mr. Kling has delighted Open Eye audiences with work exploring themes of politics (Politico, 2012), religion (Joice Rejoice, 2011), fairy tale (Folks and Heroes, 2010), trauma recovery (Flight, 2009) and more.

This year he brings us Humanimal — a work that explores the lives of humans with their animals (or is it the lives of animals with their humans?). He will be joined by perennial collaborators Michael Sommers, Simone Perrin, Jacqueline Ultan, and Michelle Kinney to create an evening of story, song, and imagery.

Mr. Kling draws inspiration for Humanimal from the work of Jack London’s White Fang and Call of the Wild, knowing we are all either drawn to the wild or repelled by it. Humanimal follows the journey of the human/animal connection — beginning with its rough start, then moving through a period of mutual understanding and respect until finally, as so often happens, it comes down to “Who-Done-Who-Wrong” or “I will always love you”. 

This limited run is not to be missed. For those who know Mr. Kling’s work through MPR broadcasts or Fitzgerald Theater performances, Open Eye’s intimate 90-seat venue provides a rare opportunity to hear his stories up close, as if he were sitting in your own living room. Kevin Kling is a superb storyteller whose tales can revive a soul. In these tales, it just may be the animal that revives the human soul.

NOTE: This production contains adult language — some of the animals in these stories swear.  Consider this show to have the equivalent of a PG-13 rating.”

Related Post:

https://singlemomontherun.com/2013/07/13/smallest-theater-in-minneapolis-maybe-but-also-one-of-the-best/

The Sale of Children

[Image: Some of the students at the school in Fatu-Ahi, East Timor. (UN/DPI Photo# 203235C)]

 

 

 

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 

As of November 2009, 193 countries have ratified or accepted this international treaty.  The only countries that have not signed it are Somalia, South Sudan, and the United States of America.

While the US has not signed the Convention, it has signed onto the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, which requires countries to prohibit the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/?utm_source=News+Alert+6%2F22%2F12&utm_campaign=June+News+Alert+2&utm_medium=email

Committee on the Rights of the Child

Monitoring children’s rights

The Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by its State parties. It also monitors implementation of two optional protocols to the Convention, on involvement of children in armed conflict and on sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. On 19 December 2011, the UN General Assembly approved a third optional protocol on a Communications Procedure, which will allow individual children to submit complaints regarding specific violations of their rights under the Convention and its first two optional protocols. The Protocol opens for signature in 2012 and will enter into force upon ratification by 10 UN Member States.

All States parties are obliged to submit regular reports to the Committee on how the rights are being implemented. States must report initially two years after acceding to the Convention and then every five years. The Committee examines each report and addresses its concerns and recommendations to the State party in the form of “concluding observations”.

The Committee reviews additional reports which must be submitted by States who have acceded to the two Optional Protocols to the Convention.

As part of the protocol the US must report every five years on its progress in preventing and combating child trafficking.  We at ECPAT-USA have prepared an Alternative Report to the US’s assessment on its own efforts.