Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Life After Children.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about how very different my life is and has been, as a result of choosing to become a mother.  (<--- Thesis Statement.)

Ask any parenting parent and they'll tell you, there was life before kids and then there is life after kids.  Somehow, someday fertilization happens and a zygote turns into a blastocyst turns into an embryo turns into a fetus turns into a baby turns into a real live person and there is work to do!  Suddenly everything looks different.  Not just about you, but to you.

One Tuesday it hits you that eating out is a Really Big Deal.  As is sleeping in.  Sleeping at all, for that matter!  By Friday, you find the need to acquaint yourself with words like "developmentally appropriate" and "thimersol".

And by "you", I mean Me.

There isn't a single decision that I make that isn't cast into the mold of What is Best for My Children.  Where before I was casually coasting along taking things as they come, I am now living an outcome-driven way of life.

If there were a physical measure, a scale to weigh how much everything I am putting into my children's lives and how much hey-maybe-I-should-save-some-for-me I'm putting into my own it would never fall heavy on my side.  That's just a fact.  I know I need to look after myself too, but honestly, who has the time?!

At least I've had enough sense knocked into me to know now that I have a right to my own happiness outside of that which makes my children happy.  Until recently, I didn't know how deeply I had engrained in myself that putting my children waaaaaaaa...aaaaaaaa...aay ahead of me was the defining characteristic of A Good Mother.

And still, I have only realized my need to take care of me because it affects my ability to take care of them.  (Can I get a witness?!)  

I am fully aware (in fact I am working toward ensuring) that the minute, the second, the moment will come when they will have outgrown me - as they should; and that if I make my whole existence about them now it will mean that when The Time does come and they Go, I'll have nothing left of my self but shadows and an empty mirror.

I sway with the pendulum and the tides reaching desperately to find the point any place in the general vicinity of the middle.  A place where I am giving them my "best of" and giving me (my relationship with The Mister, with my friends with myself) my "greatest hits".

Perhaps my life after (having) children will continue this way until I find myself with a newly defined life after (raising) children.   Hopefully when I am there and looking back with through the irony we call 20/20 hindsight I will know at last that in the very act of aiming for it, I was always somewhere in the middle because it is wider than I thought.

Whatever happens to me, I am placing all my bets that it will have a lot to do with what happens to them.    (And not the other way around.)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Biology, It's All Around Us

We are a family that thrives on our marvel for nature.  We love all (the non-gross*) living things around us.  We trap and release things like frogs and wasps.  Which is to say, we mean them no harm.  Right now, in and around our house there are spiders, lizards, tadpoles, a green heron, frogs and, of course, the unmentionables*.

The piece de resistance, however, is our newest acquisition - two dragonfly nymphs!  Dragonfly "NYMPHS"? - you say.  What on earth is that?
It's this guy!  Times two!

The best part of the story is that sweet animal whisperer Lauryn found them in our cousin's pool.  And she knew what it was, without a doubt.

They are now living in a specially designed Dragonfly Nymph Containment Unit (aka a Hellman's mayonnaise jar).  They've already eaten two tadpoles and some mosquito larvae we just happened to have lying around.

Speaking of which, we really do have tadpoles up the ying yang around here.  Just yesterday I noticed a fresh set of eggs on the surface of one of our big water catchers outside.  They have since hatched and are being deployed to the home of a fellow unschooler in the specially re-adapted Tadpole Containment Unit.

I feel a teensy bit bad about feeding our darling 'poles to these carnivorous nymphs, but it's no different than the beautiful Green Heron who has been feasting on them in the bottom of our defunct above ground pool for the past couple of weeks.  He has essentially moved in, as the pickin's are, well, not-so-slim.

In our mosquito infested laundry room, several small spiders have set up shop.   We've been observing them and the neat little packages we assumed were egg sacks on their webs.  And we were right!  Having noticed the frogs eggs on my way to the laundry yesterday, I was on alert for all reproductive activity in the vicinity.  Naturally, I checked the web of my favorite spider and - gasp! - she was not there.  And, what's this?  Tiny black spots on her web?

*Leans in closer (but not too close) squinting*

Oh my gosh, those are her BABIES!  30, maybe 40 spider hatchlings, who have presumably eaten their mother, just sitting there in her web.

Right there.  Inches away from where we go to use a machine to wash our clothes, biology is happening before our very eyes.


*Roaches, Mosquitos, Centipedes, Rats, Fleas, and/or Ticks