13 October 2016

Starting afresh

I got myself a new address:  www.desperatelyseekingsustenance.com 

I'm starting anew over there - click the hyperlink above to take a look (it's under construction for the time being, but it'll get better soon, I promise).

22 April 2016

Opposites attract

My son is nearly nine months old. It's hard to be believe, but also not at all. Motherhood is similarly nothing like what I expected, but exactly what I expected. 

Baby is a delight and full of personality and quirks.  Motherhood however is, by turns, messy and fresh, slow and invigorating, boring and busy. I've never felt as unsure of myself as I have these last nine months, or as certain of purpose.  Not the purpose of my entire life, no, it's not my style to pin all my worth on one undertaking, but sure of the reason for getting out of bed every day, the reason why I will continue to work, the reason why I want to create a beautiful life. It's all for my family, our unit of three. 

It's lonely though, sometimes even with people around. It's isolating and periodically friendless, and there's an overwhelming feeling that everyone around you is judging everything you do. I disliked receiving advice before I became a mother, and now I positively loathe it. It's likely a personality failing, but my experience isn't the same as others, and support is better than advice and opinions, well-meant or not. 

The next three months will likely be much the same as the last nine, except with the knowledge that I will soon entrust the care of my baby to someone else for eight hours a day, five days a week. That'll be anxiety-ridden and liberating simultaneously - more to add to the list of opposites of which motherhood seems to be made. 

29 January 2016

An introduction

So, I had a baby six months ago. He's lovely and entirely perfect. I'm a lucky girl.

27 April 2015

User Guides

My husband and I are from two separate cultural and religious traditions.  He’s of Indian Sikh extraction, and I’m of Irish-Canadian Christian background.  While all that culminated in two kickass weddings that took place about five years ago, now that we’re having a baby there’s some interesting things to consider.

I love my faith.  I don’t love dogma, because I don’t think that anything can be incontrovertibly true, nor should anything be so blindly followed as to prevent questioning or challenging over millenia.  Never have, never will.  I actually love the idea behind all faiths, because I’m fond of the idea that each one is essentially seeking the same thing – to make our human experience more understandable in the greater scheme of the universe. 

My husband is probably more culturally Sikh than religiously so.  He keeps his kesh and his turban, but his leanings are more scientific than spiritual.  He, too, abhors dogma and the ignorance that results from blind adherence to codified sets of rules that don’t adapt to changing times or attitudes. 

We’ve been asked how we’re going to raise our kid, probably because people see us, don’t see an obvious outward match, and then get curious about the myriad possibilities for our plans for our progeny.  It’s an interesting question to a lot of people, and every single person who’s asked has an opinion of their own.  They’re sometimes far less interested in our response than in the opinion that they already hold.

This child of ours will grow up knowing a little bit about every faith, and a fair bit about two in particular.  He or she will say grace before dinner, and will be able to greet older Indian family members with “Sat Sri Akal”.  Baby will know the stories of Jesus and the apostles and prophets, and those of the Gurus and brave sardars and sardarnis who fought for their place in the world, because baby’s Dad and I will tell him about all of them.  I’ll probably sing hymns to the baby, and maybe my husband will sing shabads.  No choices regarding religion will be made for this child, because we believe that being born in a family like ours provides the ultimate in faith learning environments.

We will ensure that our baby grows up equipped with enough knowledge to be able to find a path.  I’m pretty sure that’s all that parents can ever really do. 

22 April 2015

All the comforts of home

If you’ve been pregnant before, you’ll know that what was previously a perfectly serviceable, even comfortable and pleasant home becomes the Source of All Discontent at some point during the 40 weeks of gestation.  I’m there at the moment, and can barely stand the sight of anything in our condo.  It all infuriates me, from the bed to the stove to the shower. 

What’s funny is I’m not entirely sure why I feel this way about a place that I heretofore considered to be a solid representation of whatever home means to me.  The world of pregnancy websites tells me that I’m “nesting”, a term that of course brings to mind all sorts of birdy imagery.  It just seems as though the magnitude of the clear up and clean out that we need to do before the baby’s arrival is perhaps a bit too much.  Instead of lining a nest carefully and diligently with feathers, I want to rent a dumpster and throw all of our belongings into it. 

Of course we won’t be doing that, and have taken a more selective approach to making sure that we have the right stuff in the right places.  The baby’s crib has arrived, but we won’t be setting it up for real until after my parents have gone home (about two weeks after the baby has made its world debut).  I’ve used the image below as my inspiration for what I’d like the baby’s room to look like eventually – it’s about as non-baby as you can get, but the colours and general sense of room zen are what I’m really going for:

We’re being really choosy about what we buy for the baby, as we don’t have any extra space at all in our 875 square feet of beautiful downtown Toronto.  We’ve agreed that the only necessary home items are this crib, bassinet, bouncy seat, and change pad.  No toys, no random accoutrements – we just don’t have the space.

We’ve cleared out our closets and made room for baby clothes, went through stuff in storage boxes and separated out stuff we think the baby will enjoy, and hidden stuff that we’d rather never be broken or misplaced.  We’ll clean our soft furnishings, move a 1930s dresser in from my parents’ place, find actual bookshelves instead of the makeshift stuff we’ve been using, and maybe then my nesting instincts will be satisfied.  Maybe.  A few extra feathers here and there won’t hurt I guess.  

15 April 2015

Apprehending apprehension

One of the strangest things that I've noticed about being an expectant mother is that a formerly perfectly rational mind can suddenly, and without warning, become the opposite of perfectly rational.  

Don't get me wrong - I've always had my moments of utter ridiculousness, but I've noticed that they come far faster now.  Take, for example, the events of last week:

1. Eat more frequently, but still very healthily, all day at work.
2. Have another snack at home.
3. Start casually looking at a couple of pregnancy-and-baby-related websites.
4. Find articles about food-borne pathogens.
5. Read articles with increasing terror, especially lists of symptoms.
6. Become convinced that at least one of the aforementioned food-borne pathogens is circulating in my bloodstream.
9. Start reading about other things that can happen during pregnancy.
10. Decide it is neither LISTERIA or TOXOPLASMOSIS but instead PRE-PRE-ECLAMPSIA, and I'd better wake my husband up to tell him the prognosis.

Of course, I have none of those things, but the high jumps my mind can take are medal-worthy. I'm lucky to have so many friends, including my mother, who have been through this process before and can, at the bing of a text message, put my mind at rest.  I haven't had to call on them as of yet, but just having them there is a significant comfort.

This is a toxoplasma cyst in a mouse brain.  Not particularly comforting, this.

09 March 2015

Now, Ain't That Love?

Here's a funny thing - in about 5.5 months, my husband and I will be parents.  I'm currently in the throes of the second trimester, and things so far have gone extraordinarily well.  No nausea, very little pain, no impending sense of doom.  I've been very, very fortunate and I hope that continues.

Of course there's lots to do, places to go and stuff to see, but mostly I just want to chill out and enjoy the next few months with my husband.  To me, this is our time in which we can wander around and plan and dream and do the things we may not have as much time for when our baby arrives.  

We've told most people now - we chose to announce to our friends and some select family by a card, because I'm not big on telling people in person.  It's superstitious of me, but I have a tendency to feel that the more people know, the more chance there is for bad feelings and bad wishes to percolate.  We have been lucky to receive lots of good wishes, excitement and happiness for us from others.  

Announcing this has been a bit bittersweet for me, mostly because of who isn't here to hear our news.  Over the last few months I've missed my brother in a really fundamental way - I can't call him to tell him about hearing the baby's heartbeat, or send him emails to let him know what's up, and I certainly can't just call round and see him.  Even though it's been nearly five years since Brent died, sometimes it's been hard even to see my husband with his sister, because I don't have that kind of relationship with anyone anymore.  My baby will have only great uncles and aunts on my side, which is a challenging thing to try to wrap my head around sometimes.  I'm not interested in creating "honourary" uncles, because it seems extremely disrespectful to Brent, who, along with my brother-in-law, my own uncles and my husband's uncles, are the only people whom my kid should call by that honorific.  

But despite the bittersweet nature of this particular announcement, and despite all of the warnings of upcoming changes, my husband and I are very, very excited to meet our new daughter or son later this year.  We understand that this week it is the size of an onion - a whole onion, just hanging out inside of me - and next week it will be the size of a sweet potato.  We hope and pray that baby will continue to grow and develop into a healthy, well-adjusted tiny person and adult, because really hoping for anything else seems pretty greedy at this point.  We have, and are, all we need.