The washer is fixed! A friend came over and tinkered with it, and now it isn't leaking. Not entirely sure what the problem had been, perhaps some hoses weren't screwed in quite right or something. I am now really enjoying laundry -- I am so happy to be able to dump in the clothes and walk away! Though laundry has never been a dreaded chore for me anyway; it beats dishes hands down.
Miriam appears to be teething. At least that's how I read extreme fussiness, poor sleep, and trying to bite my face. I am a bit miffed because this girl has led me to believe all this time that she was an easy baby, and here she is pulling out the rug on me! She wakes up every hour or two throughout the night, and I can't get her back in the crib so she has to sleep with me. Which I hate. Last night she added an extra feature, the three a.m. "it's totally morning, mom" awake time. Plus the 5:30 final wakeup. Not cool, Formerly World's Happiest Baby.
She won't fall asleep in her wrap anymore, she pushes against me and cries. She will fall asleep while nursing, but then wake up if I move or if the boys make any noise .... and you know how often THAT happens. I finally figured out, halfway through yesterday, that nursing her IN the wrap sort of works. It's not my favorite, but it allows her to get some sleep anyway.
I picked the wrong week to try to give up caffeine. (Thought it would help her sleep ... though it clearly isn't!)
Yesterday's post was intended to finally explain how I can be happy with being a woman. And it works for me at the moment. The trouble is, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes a prestige group simply appears to be a scam to get more work out of people. To the question "why do I have to suffer more for the common good than others?" there is never any real answer.
But I think that one of the things that makes a big difference to how I view my life is having the right models and archetypes. I have to be able to imagine myself as something I can admire. For quite a long time it was Ma Ingalls; I love Ma. But that stopped working. And then for awhile it was Mother Earth -- the idea of being life-giving and growing helped me through some of my last pregnancy. I don't feel I need that so much now. My model at the moment comes from Lois McMaster Bujold. (Yeah, when I like an author I talk about them constantly, you know how it is.)
In her science fiction books, the planet Barrayar is ruled by a warrior caste called the Vor. Mostly they're just an aristocracy and nothing particularly special. But from time to time you see that they are something more than that -- they are people raised with the understanding that they are always, always, always going to put Barrayar before themselves. They are never allowed to be deficient in courage. They are never allowed to follow sentiment before duty. It's just their demanding culture, and it makes many of them rather unhappy.
But they are also heroic. There is a scene in one of her books in which our hero, Miles, is negotiating a hostage situation. A Vor lady is being held hostage so that the terrorists can finish their destructive plot that will kill all these innocents on a space station. Miles chooses to call their bluff, risking the lady's life. It turns out okay, but afterwards Miles apologizes to her. He says that he really didn't want to risk her life, and he doesn't expect her to forgive him for putting the good of the space station first. And she says something like, "Why did you have a second's hesitation? I'm Vor. Of course I would be willing to give my life for the space station, who do you think I am?"
Miles, being Vor himself, instantly understands. Being Vor is tough and not much fun, but by golly, when you need someone to give their life for something, they're the ones you want.
And that's kind of how I am seeing being a woman right now. It's about being called to something extra, something you didn't choose, but something that's desperately needed, so what can you do but accept it? The knowledge that you are doing something vital makes it possible to see the sacrifice as worthwhile, even if you don't enjoy a second of it.
Speaking of womanhood, I wrote this post on my other blog which might interest you guys too. It's about the joy and dignity of work.
This week's episode of Papal Hysteria is the rabbit edition! Oh boy, panic and lament! I am just ... not bothered by it. At all. (Enbrethiliel, though, feel free to skip to #6, I won't be offended.)
It seems to me clear enough what the Pope said. Which makes me think sometimes that people are deliberately misreading him to have something to get mad about, but let's give them the benefit of the doubt that they really think he's saying something bad. And to explain that you have to see the context. The interviewer asked him about birth control, and the subtext (it seems to me) was pretty clear: You, Holy Father, claim to care about poverty, but the reason for poverty in the Philippines is all those dumb Catholics breeding like rabbits -- and that's your fault because you won't let them use the Pill!
And his answer was in three parts: First, the birth rate in the Philippines is not high, it's just over replacement. Second, the Church does not either say that people must have the maximum possible number of kids, it's always been about generosity AND responsibility. There's never been a teaching that you must have more kids than you can afford, or that you must get pregnant if your health is endangered. And third, poor people want to have the kids they're having, they see them as a gift. Don't give them pills, they don't want pills, they want help for their kids.
Not offensive to me, not at all. He was never saying that Catholics think we are supposed to be like rabbits. He was saying that some non-Catholics accuse us of having to be like rabbits (it's a slur many of us have heard before; I have) and that is simply not true, it's no part of our doctrine that we mindlessly reproduce, it has ALWAYS been a matter of discernment. So when you see a family of ten, it's not that the pope made them have a bunch of babies they didn't want -- that family wanted and chose to have that many.
But what about his specific comment about the woman with the seven c-sections? Well, there's two issues. First there is the question of telling somebody's specific story. When priests use this trick in their homilies, I always assume the story is either made-up or a composite, because it would be pretty awful to tell a real person's real story. I mean, how would you feel to have your own problems trotted out, even anonymously, as a "what not to do" in the sermon? And yes, if this is a real specific case, to the point that the woman could identify herself, the Pope shouldn't do that. Not sure if that is the case.
The second issue is, is his judgment on the situation even correct? Is getting pregnant after seven c-sections tempting God? Well, it depends. I do think it could be. If your doctor has told you, "Look, after all those cesareans, your uterus isn't in good shape. If you get pregnant again, I fear a rupture or placenta acreta," well, I'd listen to him if I were you. The risks of pregnancy increase quite sharply with each c-section. Two or three is pretty darn safe. Seven, eight? I wouldn't. Personally, I wouldn't. Not on purpose. And that's with me having no other risk factors and living in a country with good maternal care in general. The point stands -- we are not supposed to put God to the test, doing dangerous things and demanding that God make it all right. He doesn't work that way. And as a mother of seven, you do have a responsibility to the kids you have. But if you are actually in that situation, ask your doctor what your specific risks are. It might be no more dangerous than any number of other worthwhile things you do.
Unfortunately, the Pope makes it sounds like with all these wonderful licit means to avoid pregnancy, all Catholics can avoid pregnancy for sure whenever they want. And that's not actually true. Of the people I know with scads of c-sections and health risks, generally they try not to get pregnant and do anyway. Agreed, the Pill has a failure rate just like NFP has. But I am not sure what the Church would recommend in those cases. Abstinence till menopause? Or does it depend on just how bad the risk was?
And I suppose this is why the Pope also mentioned that confessors should be merciful in dealing with these issues. Not that they should give people permission to break the moral law -- but that they should understand that couples face really strong temptations in their marriages, and instead of calling them names, accusing them of failing to love their spouses or God, they should give absolution and a merciful penance, and if necessary refer them to things which might help, whether it's a convincing argument for the Church's way or a doctor or NFP teacher who could help them out of their difficulty. The Church's teaching is hard sometimes; we need the support of our priests.
Marko is OBSESSED with Doctor Who. He'll wake up in the morning and demand gel for his hair so he can be the Tenth Doctor. Then he goes and builds a Dalek out of tinker toys. Later on he declares my room is the TARDIS and keeps running in and out of it on a mission of his own. Anything stick-shaped -- ANYTHING -- becomes a sonic screwdriver. I have to say I don't mind. I like my kids following my fandoms. And John can't complain -- last week it was battle droids.
So the other day he was monkeying around pretending to write, like he sometimes does. It makes me feel bad, because unschooling's about following the child, not neglecting the child, and yet I hardly ever have the time to do letters with him, even though he's interested. He has a letter puzzle, and I think by now he knows what all the letters' names are at least. Earlier this week we had some fun making words with the letters from his puzzle, but only for about ten minutes because then the baby started to cry.
So he is sitting at the table "writing," and I'm thinking about how he's nearly five and hasn't taught himself to read yet. The kids in my family all read early, so I don't really know what the right timeframe is, but I've felt very strongly that I shouldn't push him yet. I mean, why do kids have to read in kindergarten anyway? So I resolve not to stress out about it, but also not to be quite so neglectful. Maybe I should make some time to work on letters with him. But first I should read up on literacy. Reading first, or writing first, like in Montessori? Print first or cursive first? Why is this all so complicated?
In the middle of this he asks how to spell "golf ball," and I tell him, slowly, not really expecting him to write it because his most letterlike shapes so far have been a bit of a Rorschach test. But when I go over there, what he has written actually does look like "HOLF BALL." Not bad. So he flips his paper over and demands I spell TARDIS. So after about 20 minutes he and I -- with me mostly keeping busy doing housework around him, and just telling him what letter to do next -- have come up with this:
[picture of the Doctor and his sonic screwdriver]
[picture of the TARDIS]
[picture of a Dalek]
He goes on for another hour or two and fills up three more sheets of paper, front and back. He refuses to write about anything that is not Who-related. Some of the letters he doesn't know how to write, and I pull them out of the puzzle to show him. Only after I do that a few times, he starts playing helpless and wanting me to do that with every single letter. Oh well. I play along, no biggie. He's holding the pen right and his letter shapes are getting more controlled. If he wants to pretend he suddenly doesn't know what an A looks like, whatever. Ever since then he's been doing some writing every day, because he can.
I'm just pleased as punch. I try not to care overmuch about literacy -- I mean, it's not one of the main skills for the under-six bunch, they have so much else to master that's important like self-control and empathy and not running into things -- but, well, it is awfully important in our society, and it's natural for every parent to worry a lot about it.
And there's my kid, proving unschooling really does work, and that in between all the toy obsessions and fandom crazes, everyone once in awhile kids go nuts about learning.