New bank card

I'm exceedingly sad today.

For some reason today feels worse than all the other days.  And I'm not at all sure why.

Maybe it's because the test is over and done with and I don't have anything to fill my thoughts but with WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?  WHAT ARE YOU DOING? YOU AREN'T DOING ENOUGH!  DO MORE!  WORK HARDER!  TRY HARDER!

I have to get a job.  It's very simple.  Yet, I still feel horribly displaced and out of sorts by all of this.  My baby is away from me every day and I only see him three hours a day during the week.  That barely feels like mothering to me after doing it for 24 hours a day for more than 3 years.

I know that many displaced homemakers such as myself have gone through this and it's comforting to know there's a universe of women who know what this is like... but it still sucks shit.  It sucks. fucking. shit.  And a half.

This past Friday my financials with Rooster split.  Meaning, half his paycheck goes into my own separate account now.  I received my cards in the mail weeks ago, but never activated them.  I thought I was lazy, but really, I was in denial.  As I slid the card in the ATM slot Saturday to activate it a little piece of me shredded.  My own account.  Alone.  Separately.

Rooster is cracking under the financial strain of doubling our expenses.  I don't blame him.  Meanwhile, I continue to shatter into a million tiny bits and pieces.  A little here.  A little there.

I look into Hawk's ocean-colored eyes with the dark blond lashes and I see love and hope.  I look into the mirror and I see sorrow.  Stark and lingering.

I'll be ok, I know this, but... but I don't know what.

I look at my friends and I see more love and support.  I would drown if it weren't for them, their belief in me.  I am dried up inside.  I care about so very little anymore.  I feel almost nothing when I am alone.

Every day I think about my future and my baby's.  I am proud of myself and feel strong then I get sucked into a vortex of fear and self-doubt.  I love my life -- love it -- but it also feels like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  One week I am Jessica.  Rowdy, raucous, bold.  The next, I am Mommy.  Loving, responsible, devoted.

Each week causes me whip lash they are so utterly different and each so potent in their affect on me.

My bank card somehow proves this.  I am on my own.  Alone.  Both me and myself.


Attachment parenting through separation: It makes it a little better

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared the parenting essentials they could not live without. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

(Ed note: Originally written for the carnival 2/2/11.)

I woke up in that cool, pre-dawn light today with my nose cold.  Austin is currently 18 degrees due to an arctic cold front.  I snuggled under my down comforter and stretched.  It'd been a rough night.  I'd woken up at 3, 4, 5, and now 6.  Hawk is sick.  Really, really sick.

It started two Sundays ago with swollen eyes and a pinkeye, ear-infection, and sinusitis diagnosis.  It was my week to have him and Rooster was in Kansas for a death in the family.  I parented solo, and happily; I was in total control of all his care.

This past weekend Hawk started out strong, but by Sunday he was clearly not doing well again.  Rooster returned to town and we did the switch.  Monday, I went to the house to see Hawk.  He looked like hell.  Rosy-cheeked, glassy-eyed, quiet.  Later that afternoon Rooster took Hawk back to the clinic and they diagnosed him with a slight infiltration of pneumonia in his right lung and now a double ear infection.

I was still hosting a friend of mine from out of town and as soon as I dropped her off at the airport I headed back to see Hawk.  Parting with him when he was so sick broke my heart.  I'm his mama.  I keep him safe and strong and well, right??  I stroke his hot cheek and tuck him in, get him his "cowd water," give him his medicine, keep track of his breathing and heart rate.  I am simply there.

But not any more.  Now I am a mile or two away, alone in my apartment texting every hour with his father.  I can't tell you how many times I've talked to Rooster about Hawk over the last few days and I'm grateful for that, but goddamn this is by far the worst feeling as a parent I've ever felt.  Not only is my baby sick (and really sick), but I am not there to comfort him.

If it wasn't for the simple bond that I've built with him through attachment parenting -- gentle, loving, and supportive -- I would lose my mother-lovin' mind right now.  Through all of this, this whole divorce/separation bullshit, I've relied heavily on my philosophies that being intuitive, meeting his needs, and believing in his strength will get us all through this.

Attachment parenting -- and the entire attachment theory in general -- posits that if you wholly meet the needs of a child they will survive when you are absent.  They will be ok.

I don't know... I feel like we're living proof that attachment parenting through separation works.  Hawk seems to have settled into his new routine a lot faster than other kids have.  Yeah, it's been hard, it's stressful, we all have our moments, but Rooster and I have learned to sink into the mild trauma of transitions and navigate them with little to no bumps along the way.  I can't speak highly enough of understanding developmental milestones and a child's cognitive abilities.  It's eye-opening and enlightening to say the least.

And this can be applied to any family, not just one who's cracked in two.  Any family can fall back on the tenets of gentle, natural parenting whenever there's a disturbance in the force, you know?  Any family can give their kid a break and look beyond the behavior to outside forces that might be causing it.

Yesterday Hawk spent the day with me so Rooster could work, but today Rooster is taking a sick day and I'll just go over to the house to relieve him for a few hours.  I'll get to be close to my baby and touch his soft cheeks and hold him close, and I'll get to fill my broken heart with his sweet baby love.

I cried a little this morning as I watched videos on my phone of Hawk dancing to Katy Perry and shouting, "Happy birthday!!" over and over.  He's so precious, so innocent.  Being apart from him is a special kind of hell that I have only had a month to get used to.  I know it'll get better, but damn...  I just thank my lucky stars that I've done it all the way I have so far.  I can't imagine my life without this connection.  It makes me feel lucky despite everything that's happening and for that I'm eternally grateful.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon February 8 with all the carnival links.)

  • Not Without Him — The love Starr at Taking Time shares with her husband is the foundation of her parenting.
  • I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without B(.)(.)bs — From an uneducated dreamer to a breastfeeding mother of a toddler, nursing has forever changed Kristy at Strings to Things's relationship with her daughter and her outlook on life.
  • Raising a Child in the Internet Village — When Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction has a question or concern about parenting, she turns to the Internet. What did parents do before Google?
  • Partner in Crime and ParentingBethy at Bounce Me to the Moon can't imagine parenting without her husband's sense of humor - he brings her laughter and love every day.)
  • I Make MilkPatti at Jazzy Mama can't imagine trying to mother her babies without her breasts, but she could do it if she had to.
  • New Perspectives Bring New BeginningsMJ at Wander Wonder Discover, who is a former authoritarian mamma, has gained perspective via parenting.
  • Time Out!Mrs. Green at Little Green Blog explores how time apart can increase your capacity to give unconditionally.
  • Unimaginable Without HimKristina at heyred designs is celebrating her amazing partner, without whom none of her parenting experience would be possible.
  • My Parenting NecessityClaire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl needs "me time" in order to be the Mama she wants to be.
  • Babywearing As a Way of LifeDarcel at The Mahogany Way talks about the benefits of babywearing in everyday life.
  • Parenting Partnership — Sometimes Abbie at Farmer's Daughter doesn't appreciate her husband enough, but she definitely couldn't imagine parenting without his help.
  • Parenting EssentialsMomma Jorje loves her parenting products, but she needs you even more.
  • My Parenting Must-Have: SupportJoella at Fine and Fair wrote a letter to her daughter about the role that support from friends and family plays in her mothering.
  • More Than Just Hair — Think doing hair is full of fluff? Too girly? Useless? Karli from Curly Hairdo Ideas used to think so too.
  • The Minimalist Parent — The parents at Living Peacefully with Children embrace a minimalist perspective when it comes to baby gear. A good sling is all they need.
  • Without My BreastsCharise at I Thought I Knew Mama can't imagine parenting without her breasts; here's why.
  • Loves Books, Loves PeopleSeonaid at the Practical Dilettante discovers that the library is a perfect fit for her family's needs.
  • An Ode to the Maya WrapRevMama's next child might be named Maya, because of her fondness for the sling.
  • Avoiding the Padded RoomPecky at Benny and Bex is here to testify that it takes a village to raise a child.
  • My parenting essentials, from Tivo to battery-operated monstrositiesLauren at Hobo Mama presents a list of parenting essentials you didn't even know you needed (and probably don't…).
  • Attachment Parenting Through Separation: It Makes It a Little BetterJessica at This Is Worthwhile talks about how she couldn't survive her separation without attachment parenting and the bond it's afforded her with her 3 year old son.
  • Parenting EssentialsDeb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares the principles she used to parent her children from infants to adults.
  • My Parenting Essentials — The things that are truly essential to Kim at In Desperate Need of Entertainment aren't things at all.
  • I'm No One Without My Sling — How baby carrying is essential to the parenting of Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama.
  • I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without...Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine talks about what she needs to raise her children.
  • February Carnival of Natural Parenting — Through her experiences over the last five and a half years, Casey at Love What Is has discovered her most important tool for parenting is using her instincts.
  • CNP: I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without __________.The Artsymama discloses the one thing that gave her back control of herself as a parent.
  • Laugh Until I Cry — Laughing with her sons keeps Acacia at Fingerpaint & Superheroes connected and grounded.
  • I Cannot Imagine Parenting WithoutLuschka at Diary of a First Child realizes what the one thing she can't imagine parenting without is, and it turns out it's not a thing after all.
  • It Takes Two — Here are a few of the reasons why Jenn at Adventures Down Under cannot imagine parenting without her fabulous husband.
  • Stopping to Listen — Though it wasn't easy at first, Knocked Up - Knocked Over cannot imagine parenting her daughter without listening first to what she is telling her.
  • The Essence of Parenting — There are many wonderful resources that make life easier for Michelle at the Parent Vortex to parent, but the essence is the relationship between parent and child.
  • What I Cannot Live WithoutSybil at Musings of a Milk Maker considers her computer to be a parenting lifeline.
  • True Blessings: White Noise and GrandparentsKat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment can't live without her white noise machine and the support of her parents.
  • The Necessities! — What "stuff" does a natural parent like Lily, aka Witch Mom really need? Not much, it turns out.
  • Mama Showed MeMama Mo at Attached at the Nip writes about how parenting wisdom is passed on by example.
  • Ode to the Loo — For Joni Rae at Tales of a Kitchen Witch, the bathroom is her safe place, where she can take a minute to calm down if she is feeling touched out.
  • Go, Mama. Go!Andrea!!! at Ella-Bean & Co. has been able to integrate her many roles through her get-up-and-go parenting essential, exercise!
  • My Other HalfBecky at Old New Legacy realizes what a relief it is to have her husband parent alongside her.
  • Grace, Love, and CoffeeMrsH at Fleeting Moments realizes that lifelines can take the form of the profound, or the mundane. Both are ok.
  • Supportive Spouse, Check! — There are so many parenting tools and gadgets that are superfluous, but the one essential, for Danielle at born.in.japan, has been her supportive spouse.
  • Why I'm a BabywearerMeredith at Becoming Mamas reflects on the ways babywearing has enhanced her mama baby relationship...and made life easier to boot.
  • It's Marvelous Out Here, Kiddo!Rachael at The Variegated Life can't imagine parenting in the big city without the marvels of Prospect Park to share with her Critter.
  • Yes, Thank YouAmy at Anktangle offers tips on how to ask for and accept help, an essential for successful parenting.
  • Parenting Essentials Checklist: Mom’s Inner Rebel and Her Kids’ VoicesOlivia at Write About Birth reflects on raising global citizens and saying no to societal norms.
  • Eco-Mama Online! — An Eco-Mama living in the mountains of a nature island, Terri at Child of the Nature Isle finds it essential to connect to nature and to connect online.
  • Sorry, We Just Sold the Last OneNev at The Adventures of Lime confesses she missed out the day they handed out patience.
  • LaughTashmica at The Mother Flippin' Blog reveals her super power, her talisman agains mean mommy.
  • My Priceless Parenting Resource — What do books, a magazine community, my mother and the local playgroup have in common? Lucy at Dreaming Aloud tells us...
  • The Gift of Shared TimeTree at Mom Grooves strives to experience the world from her daughter's perspective.
  • Follow the GigglesDionna at Code Name: Mama can’t live without the sound of her child’s giggles - come watch her video and you’ll agree!
  • Can I Mommy Without Boob?Emily at Crunchy(ish) Mama shares her fears about weaning and losing part of that mother/child bond.


1:40 pm (WW): Cat-skin rug

I thought I'd moved on

I've been thinking about my father a lot lately (yeah, you know this is gonna be a fun post now, don'tcha?).  The specter of his illness, both physical and emotional versions, have been looming over my life like a dark cloud.  The truth is, I haven't shaken it like I thought I had.

My relationship with him was based solely on me trying to live up to his impossible expectations and never coming even close and thus being punished for letting him down.  My adult eyes look back on me as a little girl and I cringe; I can't imagine doing that to a child.  It was just cruel and unusual punishment.

One of my best friends was in town this weekend and we talked about him a lot.  We also talked about my ex-stepdad, another father figure who treated me badly.  The funny thing is that I don't really remember much of those five years, but Linda does.  It makes me feel weird and sad that I can't remember my own life and how someone treated me, but there it is.

I know that a lot of my parenting is in direct reaction to my own childhood, if not all of it at times.  I am determined to protect Hawk from me and other adults and our particular pathos.  I want him to learn to navigate life knowing he's inherently good and if I can get him on board with that even a little bit I think his life will be on less painful trajectory than mine or Rooster's was.

Sometimes I worry that all my parenting is reactive.  I see other adults in my life and how they blindly swing through life trying to relive their own traumas to a more successful end and I don't want to be like that.  I know I'm fucked up, but I struggle to do the right thing every time, even if it's the most painful, even if sometimes I slip and I'm not my best Me.

I don't think my father ever considered breaking a cycle a day in his life.  He was mired in his own pain and history.  My mother, on the other hand, was a rock star and beat her cycle with a baseball bat.  Where her family was neglectful and cruel she was tender and present, but we were also enmeshed, too close for me to differentiate and separate gently.  It was a shock to all our systems as I grew up and became more independent and more than a little traumatic.

I talk to Hawk all the time about how when adults behave in a certain way it has nothing to do with him.  Maybe they don't like being kicked by him, but it's not HIM, his little personhood, that they're reacting to.  Sometimes he nods and agrees with me, other times he insists it's his fault I'm angry.  I get that he's the center of his own universe and I'll continue to work on this with him because (and here's why I think I'm so reactive) I remember so clearly thinking that I was responsible for everything my parents ever felt and it crushed me.   And it crushed me to the point that my dad's death was a relief.  It meant that the legacy of pain had ended. 

Or at least I thought it had.  Because here I am reliving it in a vicarious way in order to not pass it on to Hawk -- such a strange phenomenon.  And I'm grieving and stumbling all over again.

Also, unrelated to parenting, I've realized that my father's influence on my life is still very strong.  My marriage protected me from my tendencies for 7 years, but on my own I'm much like I was single.  And that realization has been a real slap in the face.  A good slap, but a slap nonetheless.

Ahh... I love writing heavy shit all the goddamned time.  Ha!  Here, let me end on something cute that happened recently.  I went to get Hawk from daycare the other day and as I passed through the gate I could see him digging in the sand with his teacher Hailey.  The side of his face looked discolored and my stomach dropped a little.  When I got to a place where I could see his whole face I realized he was covered in paint reminiscent of a bloody beating (it was also on his belly, back and forearms, but I didn't discover that until bath time).  This kid goes to Kiddie Heaven every day at this little hippie school and I love it!