Imagination Station

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Blogher.com’s Shannon Eileen (Hapiness Is…) posted this as a romantic Valentine’s Day scene for two. It reminded me of that scene from the Holiday where Cameron Diaz walks into a little girl’s bedroom and says, “This is an exceptionally great tent.” How perfect would this be to recreate in a little girls room for tea parties or as a reading corner? Chandeliers add sophistication and romance to any room, and an elegant space like this would surely spark any little girl’s imagination.

(images by Something’s Hiding Here)

Ta-Ta Tacos

I flashed my waiter last night. It wasn’t because of the added twist of lime in my guacamole either. There we were a family of 4 eating out for the first time since Ameila was born. It was apparent to everyone that we don’t get out much. My toddler is tossing tortilla chips on the floor while Clark is trying to explain the difference between a tostada, an enchilada, and a chimichanga. It was a rather enlightening way to pass the time until Miguel returned with my beer and Salem’s milk. We had chosen an end booth so I could discretely nurse Mia who was curled up in the baby sling. Yes, I am a nursing mother who occasionally partakes of adult beverages. I’m not saying I do belly shots after the kids go to sleep, but the 4oz prenatal tonic served me well during pregnancy and I have two healthy and thriving children– so don’t judge me. Anyway, in the middle of Salem’s chip throwing tournament and Clark’s dissertation on the proper way to order Mexican food, I didn’t notice that my nursing shawl had….er….“malfunctioned”. There I was in all my mama glory at the exact moment Miguel came to deliver my Miller Light. In an impromptu round of charades, Clark is frantically trying to communicate to me that I am no longer “kicking it family style” if you know what I mean. He began to shout in a whisper, “Below! Below!”… to which I, being deaf in one ear, responded, “Blow what?!” It was too little too late. Our safe for the whole family affair ended up turning into a happy hour peep show for Miguel, Miller, and anyone else who happened to glance up from their tacos at the perfect moment. What’s worse is that Clark has always been a little uncomfortable with nursing in public regardless of all efforts at discretion. I had assured him that I was not one of those women who abuse the privilege… whipping out their maternal bounty in shopping malls, at ball fields, and in airport terminals. I just have to say it. To all nursing mothers everywhere… Not everyone adheres to the motto that “breast is best” in public settings. Please be considerate of the innocent passerby who glances in your feeding direction and gets more than they bargained for especially if that passerby is of the male persuasion. There I said it. I understand that from mama’s point of view, she has gone from 9 months of feeling about as sexy as Aunt Jemima to feeling like Pamela Anderson from the chest up, and it is tempting to want to share her voluptuousness with the rest of the class. But on behalf of the non-lactating community, please…. Cover those things up! Well, I guess it serves me right. I certainly took a tumble off my soap box evidenced by my Janet Jackson escapade over Mexican food. Do you think this has anything to do with why Miguel didn’t charge us for the guacamole?

I would love to hear some of your most “revealing” nursing experiences.

Just add water

Hello, my name is Salina Beasley and I am a chronic over-achiever. I always have been. It’s obnoxious really. I was the Hermine Grainger type in school– finishing papers 2 weeks early and doing the extra credit even if I was already acing the course. What can I say? I’m a doer. All right, that’s putting it mildly. As I write this, I am looking at a row of titles I so diligently studied before I had my first child, and I have to laugh at myself. I’m embarrassed to admit that I actually thought I could ace the “mommy” test if I read all of the right books and followed all of the right advice.  My “just add water” approach to parenting would have been very effective for raising puppies or chia pets perhaps, but not children. Nevertheless, when my son, Salem was born, I was so overly confident that whatever this little pooper could dish out, I would be ready for it. [Insert disclaimer here: Moms, please do not hear me making light of post partum depression. It is a very real thing (even if Tom Cruise doesn’t think so).] Anyone that has gone through it can attest to the hormonal free-fall, the mind-numbing exhaustion, or the fact that every 2 hours it feels as though there is a piranha attached to your breast sucking your very will to live. “Nipple soreness”…. Talk about putting it mildly. Who thought that was an accurate description? Clearly someone who never breastfed before… probably a man…. probably Tom Cruise. Anyway, the point is that I began to suspect that perhaps someone had tossed out my “A” score with the placenta. No parenting book could have prepared me for how difficult it would actually be. My husband, Clark, and I kept asking each other, “Why didn’t anyone tell us it would be this hard?” He thought that all parents were part of a secret society sworn to downplay the reality of life after birth. Our friends with kids would see us all disheveled, looking like poster children for the world’s worst hangover and in a very inaugural way put their hand on our shoulder as if to say, “you are now a parental conspirator avowed to disguise the truth from childless unsuspecting. You are hereby entitled to use mild phrases like ‘baby blues’, ‘low energy’, and ‘nipple soreness’. Welcome to the fellowship.”  I can look back on it now and laugh at my own ignorance, but in real time, I feared that life, my body, my marriage, and my nipples would never be the same

One afternoon, my friend Lindsey came over to see Salem and I. She brought fresh bread and a list of daily activities I should do as an alternative to jumping off the nearest bridge. The list went something like this:

1.    Take a shower

2.    Put some makeup on even if you don’t plan to leave the house

3.    Pray and journal

4.    Get some fresh air

5.    Do something for yourself

6.    Spend time with friends

Here suggestions were so simple, but little by little, over time, the fog lifted and I began to feel sane again.

What are some of the things you did to rediscover life after birth?

Operating Instructions

Moms…. Put the “Baby Wise” book down and walk away slowly. I am a reader too. I love the “how to’s” of mommy hood just as much as the next person. But I’m re-reading a book that I wish all moms everywhere, new and old, would read. It is one woman’s journey through the first year of her son’s life. In this crazy and mixed up season, it has helped me to feel sane again. When I read it yesterday, I cried because once in a while something this this whispers to my heart that I’m not alone in the dark.

“I have a friend named Anne, this woman I’ve know my entire life, who took her two-year-old up to Tahoe during the summer. They were staying in a rented condominium by the lake. And of course, it’s such a hotbed of gambling that all the rooms are equipped with these curtains and shades that block out every speck of light so you can stay up all night in the casinos and then sleep all morning. One afternoon she put the baby to bed in his playpen in one of these rooms, in the pitch-dark, and went to do some work. A few minutes later she heard her baby knocking on the door from inside the room, and she got up, knowing he’d crawled out of his playpen. She went to put him down again, but when she got to the door, she found he’d locked it. He had somehow managed to push in the little button on the doorknob. She he was calling to her, “Mommy, Mommy, “and she was saying to him, “Jiggle the doorknob, darling, “ and of course he didn’t speak much English—mostly he seemed to speak Urdu. After a moment, it became clear to him that his mother couldn’t open the door, and the panic set in. He began sobbing. So, my friend ran around like crazy trying everything possible, like trying to get the front door key to work, calling the rental agency where she left a message on the machine, calling the manager of the condominium where she left another message, and running back to check in with her son every minute or so. And there he was in the dark, this terrified little child. Finally she did the only thing she could, which was the slide her fingers underneath the door, where there was a one-inch space. She kept telling him over and over to bend down and find her fingers. Finally somehow he did. She they stayed like that for a really long time, on the floor, him holding onto her fingers in the dark. He stopped crying. She kept wanting to go call the fire department or something, but she felt that contact was the most important thing. She started saying, “Why don’t you lie down, darling, and take a little nap on the floor?” and he was obviously like “Yeah, right, Mom, that’s a great idea, I’m feeling so nice and relaxed.” So she kept saying, “Open the door now, “and every so often he’d jiggle the knob, and eventually, after maybe half an hour, it popped open.

I keep thinking of that story, how much it feels like I’m the two-year-old in the dark and God is the mother and I don’t speak the language. She could break down the door if that struck her as being the best way, and ride off with me on her charger. But instead, via my friends and my church and my shabby faith, I can just hold onto her fingers underneath the door. It isn’t enough, and it is. “

— Anne Lammot “Operating Instructions”

Slumber Party

I went to a slumber party last night. I don’t think I’ve said that since I was twelve. My best friend Christyn and I have known each other since the seventh grade. We have not lived in the same town since high school, and last June, she moved approximately .9 miles from me here in Uptown Charlotte.  She is undoubtedly the loveliest person I’ve ever known, and in true Christyn form, she  invited our friend’s daughter , Mary, over for a girl’s night. Mary’s father, David, who I’ve called “Duke” since we were twelve, is now my pastor and still to this day one of my best friends. He lives .4 miles from me with his wife and four kids. There we were– Christyn and I (age 30), Mary (age 5), my daughter Amelia (age 6 weeks) and my mother (age … Mom, I know you’re reading this, so I wouldn’t dare publish your age on the internet). We drank coffee, painted finger nails, beaded necklaces… the only thing we didn’t do was play M.A.S.H. and prank call cute boys. It occurred to me that Christyn, Duke, and I began our life-long journey together when we were just a few years older than his little girl who was now sharing a bowl of popcorn with me and holding my daughter in her lap like she was one of her baby dolls. All three of our mothers are still close friends, and we are now just a few years younger than they were when our friendship began. So I guess in a way we celebrated three generations of friendship last night. Christyn, if your reading this and you can’t find your bra, you might want to check your freezer.

Think Time

New moms have lots of think time….. no really, before you think, “Great…another blogger missing a few dots on her dice,” allow me to explain. Moms have the mental awareness of a mung bean during their 9th month of pregnancy. I couldn’t think of anything else besides when this child would arrive- that glorious day when I get to feel those tiny little fingers again. I am referring to my own. I swelled up like a zeppelin during my pregnancy with my daughter, Amelia. I was 9 months pregnant during one of the hottest summers on record in Charlotte. I didn’t leave the house for 6 weeks. I became this swollen, sweaty recluse with way too much think time. It was all very sexy. However, I decided to hang up the Howard Hughes routine and make myself useful. I started sewing. I sewed anything that wasn’t bolted down. I’m pretty sure my husband thought I was going to stitch him to the sheets in his sleep or something. Perhaps I took the nesting thing a tad bit too far, but I was on a mission to create an inspiring space to bring home my first daughter. I got to work sewing bedding and curtains, cushions and pillows. I had bit off WAY more than I could chew. Yards and yards of black and white fabric, many tears, and a few choice expressions later, I had created a tranquil retreat for Amelia and I. While I sat night after night ripping out my latest seam, crying and hurling insults at my machine, I did a lot of thinking. I thought of my baby girl. When would she arrive? Would she look like me? What if the 5 sonograms I had were wrong and she was really a he? Would he like a pink room in a dress form theme? Would the other kids tease him for being a boy with the name Amelia? Somewhere during all of that thinking and stitching, I realized that this room was my gift to her…. Well, that and I don’t know…. oxygen perhaps. So Amelia was born 2 days early and 25 ½ hours later, and we began our journey as a nursing couple affording me yet another opportunity for some excessive think time. Those first several days were nothing but rocking, nursing, thinking… rocking, nursing, thinking… I felt like a lactating version of Rain Man. Then the light bulbs started to illuminate, and these patchwork ideas that had been rolling around upstairs for some time began to interconnect. I’m not sure how it happened, but somewhere between swollen fingers and Raymond Babbitt, Lullabuy Design was conceived. And thus begins the journey….

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