Still running for the cheese (or why this blog still exists)

As my regular readers can tell, this has been a dry year for me. Just look at the number of posts this year vs. 2008! Awhile back, I had considered either shutting down the Maze, or starting a new blog that would more accurately reflect where I am in life now. Truth be told, sometimes I come here, look around, and feel distinctly hypocrytical about the things I want to write. I'm sure I'm not the only one to ever be in that kind of place.
As the time in between posts has grown longer, I came to realize something. Without the past years' material, where I am now makes very little sense. What good is the destination without the journey? As Christians, so much of the best stuff that happens to us is in the times God is molding us to His image. To throw away the evidence of that process would somehow cheapen the result, I think.
So, here we are, dear friends. I think my little mousie may just have rounded a corner finally. Some things will change around here to reflect the changes in my heart. And you know what? That's ok. As much as I typically rage against anything changed in my life, I'm learning to accept the God-given ones. My prayer is that some of you may be encouraged by what you read here. Hey, you may even be challenged. And of course, if you know me, then you know you always stand a good chance of being offended too. Not intentionally, to be sure! Just know that what you find as you wander this Maze with me may surprise you as much as it does me.

All that to say this:

Welcome to

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Confessions of a confused parent

As Ladybug's birth approaches, I find myself in the completely unenviable position of having to re-evaluate my parenting practices. Urgh. Don't you wish you were me right about now?
Our boys were born when I was quite young, 20 and 22 respectively. The only thing Mr. P. and I knew beyond a shadow of doubt that we wanted for our parenting style was to do the polar opposite of our parents. That hasn't changed.
When MonkeyMan was on the way, we read up on pregnancy and birth...and that was about it. I don't think it crossed our minds that there were "theories" to parenting, or that how you choose to raise your kids will invariably slap a label on not only them but yourselves as well. Ah, innocent ignorance. We ended up parenting "instinctively", or as I prefer to describe it, we didn't have a clue. I realize many parents chose this consciously. We did not.
With both boys, we did what felt right and appropriate. We did not know that we were basically AP parents until a few years later. We co-slept. We "bottle nursed". We held our kids near constantly. We responded to every cry, and we did not CIO.
Then DCF arrived. It didn't take long for us to figure out that they wanted us to change not only our housekeeping ways but everything we felt good about in our parenting. Don't hold the baby, he's manipulating you. Don't carry your toddler, he needs to learn independence. Get a bigger apartment, sharing a room is abuse. You get the picture. We didn't know it at the time, but this is what most people call "mainstream parenting". (As a side note, a quick search will net you almost nothing helpful in defining a mainstream parent. Well, except that mainstream parents don't love their kids as much apparently. Food for thought- if being "mainstream" is going against the cultural norms for your area, does what defines "mainstream" change with location? For instance, if everyone in your area breastfeeds, would you be considered mainstream for doing so, and "alternative" for not?)
After DCF closed our case, we had a choice. Do we go back to parenting by instinct, or do we do "what's right" and keep up what we're doing? I can't speak for Mr. P. but I was scared out of my mind. If we went back to our old ways, that would guarantee a new case, wouldn't it? So we kept on with following the mainstream parenting techniques we'd learned from the state. After awhile, it didn't bother me anymore. After all, parenting school aged kids is very different than parenting infants and toddlers. Right?
Which bring me back to the beginning. I'm still scared out of my mind. I wish it could be as easy as some of my friends have said. "Just follow your instincts and you'll be fine!" But when your instincts have contributed to having lost your kids in the past, can you really trust them? I feel completely at a loss. The only thing I've really learned while researching my options is that DCF traumatized me far more than I ever realized. Will I be able to hold Ladybug for more than a few seconds without fearing a knock at the door for my babe in arms? What about naps, bedtime, feeding, trips out and about, and all the other aspects of daily life with a new baby? I just don't know.
Mr. P. seems pretty laid back about it all. He has said that we'll parent Ladybug just like we did with our boys. And part of me rejoices at that. How much easier would it be to stick with what you know? Then again, part of me quakes inside. How can I ensure that nurturing my baby won't bring DCF to my door once again? Living with fear is definitely not cool, nor is it a great way to decide the course of your family's life.
I also can't help but wonder if I should take a deeper look at how I raise my sons as well. Would making a switch for the whole family be a good thing, or asking for trouble? Should I give DCF a call to get answers, or would that be more or less like inviting them to reopen on us? My hope and prayer is that we can get this figured out before she is born. That, and praying DCF doesn't have some strange "AP parent sense" tingling right about now.

Til next squeak,

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Power of words, anonymity of the internet.

Before I launch into what's really on my mind, I want to share this link to give some background on my personal history with the battle over breast vs. bottle. Fearless Formula Feeder is an excellent resource for moms who formula feed while still being very pro-breastfeeding in nature.

Now that you've (hopefully) read and gotten more insight into my own struggles, here's what's really been churning in my brain lately.

The Words We Choose
Any mom who has felt caught between the different sides of this debate can tell you that there are no easy answers. Guilt abounds, and even words intended to bring comfort can fuel the shame raging inside us. As mothers, we try to do what is best for our kids in our own estimation. We all fail from time to time. Somehow, this battle over feeding method gives women lingering emotional pain like nothing I've personally seen before.
Last week was World Breastfeeding Week. Blog carnivals, Facebook status updates, and message board debate were in plenty last week. On a board I am quite active on, a debate arose about how the zealous promotion of lactation (say that 10 times fast!) around mothers who have already chosen, or had no choice, to formula feed could fan the flames of the mommy guilt we already feel. I personally believe that most of the fighting comes from the words we chose to express ourselves, particularly on the net. Here's 1 of my posts from that board, edited of course for privacy and all:

As a FF mom, from our point of view, the language used is by it's very nature divisive. I personally feel that we as women have no clue as to the power and influence of the words we chose to express ourselves. I'm gonna use G. in my example because I know we're friends and she'll get that I'm not bashing her. This next bit is all to show how our words can effect others.
What if G. and I were out to have some coffee with a few other moms that we didn't know too well? Say a moms lunch out. What if she heard me say this to those other moms?
"I just can't understand moms who work outside the home. Don't they realize that's not giving their kids the best? I mean, it's just not natural. God designed us to be the heart of the home. A WOHM is just putting herself first. How can her kids receive optimum mothering from her if she's gone all day? It's just an inferior way to raise kids. Studies have shown that kids are more bonded, well-adjusted, and intelligent when they have a SAHM. I mean, don't get me wrong, I know WOHM love their kids, but let's face it, they aren't giving them the best."
I would imagine G. would be horribly upset at hearing that from me, her friend. And even though it wasn't directed at her (directed towards the other moms so they know the benefits of a SAHM), she would be well within her rights to be hurt by my words.
Now do I believe for an instant that any of the WOH/SAH junk is true? No. That goes for any parenting choice. G. and I have boys that are the exact same ages. I can without doubt say that although the picture of how we raise our boys is very different, all 4 kids are smart, healthy, well cared for young men. How do I know? Because their mothers love them and want to give them the best they can. That's gonna look different for every family.
All the words I used above in italics are phrases you typically hear in the breast vs formula battle. Just look at them. Those are words meant to divide, to evoke an us vs them scenario. A good example of that is superior/inferior. An example sentence would be: breastmilk is superior to formula OR substitute infant milk is the inferior choice. The implication here, however true or untrue the statements are, is that a mom who chooses formula is giving her kids sub par parenting.
How can we as women refuse to acknowledge the power of the words we use? As the caring and empathetic creatures God designed us to be, how can we brush off the guilt and shame many of us experience as " that's on you to deal with"? Are we not called by God as sisters? How can we truly love each other if we choose to fall prey to the "mommy wars" and perpetuate the hurt so many of us feel?
I know so many women say that no one can make you feel guilty, that you do it to yourself. I say it takes an inner strength of character to stand firm in your choices- guilt free- that many of us do not posses.
To say that the truth is paramount at all times, regardless of audience, is unfortunate. And to refute that shame and guilt tactics are regularly used amongst moms (for any parenting issue really) is blinding yourself to the realities of the worldwide community of moms that has been built up in recent years.
I don't know about anyone else, but were I to cut out of my life all the people who either do not support my choices as a mom or who do use, often unwittingly, guilt tactics to influence me, I'd be an awfully lonely lady. I think many of us, no matter the way we mother our kids, can say the same. No mom is an island. God did not design us to be so. How can we support each other while still giving other women the facts of various parenting issues? I don't know. I think until we can all have more compassion and love for each other, we won't find a solution to this cycle of hurt.

Now am I saying that all the studies regarding the myriad benefits of breastfeeding are wrong? No, not at all! I've been known to say that unless you've been living under a rock, everyone knows "breast is best". What I am saying is that a little tact can go a long way...which leads us to

Under Protection of Anonymity
If you spend a little time reading any of the various blog posts, news articles or message boards, you'll quickly see that people tend to let loose with whatever may be swirling in their minds without thought to how it may effect others. It's so easy to be cruel or heartless when you're protected by the screen. You'll never have to see the crestfallen look on another woman's face at your words. You'll never see the tears shed over regret and shame that gets dredged up with a quick tour of the comments section.
I think that many women (and some men too) would chose their words more carefully were they sitting across from each other in a cafe. I could be wrong, but I doubt it.
If you ask around the group of moms you may know in real life, you'll most likely find that few, if any, of them have been harassed for how they feed their infants. Flip that around, and ask your group of online mom friends, and many of us can say that we have indeed had our motives and parenting skills questioned. I do realize it goes both ways. If you formula feed, you don't love your kids or are lazy. If you breastfeed, you're a perv or a show off, perhaps even a boob Nazi. I'm only speaking from my personal experience as a failed breastfeeder, otherwise known as a formula feeder.

Maybe one day, we will realize our words have impact. Maybe one day, we'll treat the women on the other side of the debate with the same compassion and respect we want for ourselves. And maybe one day, we'll step back and realize that in the long run, not much of these fights matter.

Til next squeak,

Blogging fail.


Seriously, I don't know what I did but my last entry just got nommed up by teh intertubes.

A good editor I am not. Clearly.

Til next squeak,

Monday, April 26, 2010

Monday Meme

Many friends advised me that the easiest way to beat writer's block is to start simply. Hop on a blog train, or do a meme. Many also suggested various theme days.
So, here I am, hopping back on Cat's Monday meme.

1) How often do you whisper?
Not too often. Mostly on Saturday mornings when my 6 year old wakes up at the buttcrack of dawn. And yes, I'm whispering to tell him to go back to sleep.
2) When was the last time you called a help hotline? Did it solve the problem?
Hmmm. Maybe 3 years ago or so. We were looking for some help with our electric bill. Needless to say, they were no help at all.
3) How much time do you spend on yourself daily on average?
I am 1 of those lucky women who gets several hours a day to myself. My husbeast takes good care of me! I figure I'd better enjoy it now because come November, I'll no time at all to myself.
4) Show and Tell. What comes to mind first when you see this picture? Or, tell a story if it reminds you of one.
It just makes me think of that Stephen King short story. You know! They made that movie out of it. I'm thinking the story was called The Body, but the movie was Stand By Me. That sounds about right.

Til next squeak,

Saturday, April 24, 2010

It's been a long time, huh?

I must say that I'm somewhat ashamed of myself for letting this blog go so very long without being updated. *totally embarrassed*
A lot has happened this year. In March, we found out that God had chosen to bless us with our 3rd child. I'm due November 6th, but will be having a planned c-section before then.
So much has changed in my heart after going through this trial of secondary infertility. In the coming weeks and months, I hope to share with you all some of the things God has taught me.
We've settled into a church that has helped us grow in the Lord. What an amazing thing to find!
Even though it's been quite awhile, I'm confident that I will break through this darn writer's block. Who knows, maybe you'll even get sick of hearing from me!

Til next squeak,

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