musical milliner

August 4, 2013

Allattare tutti i bambini

wbw2013-flower-colorIt is our annual World Breastfeeding Week. In a former phase, Musical Milliner was a certified lactation educator. Because MM breastfed her kids to age two, the only singing was lullabyes for a time. We know anecdotally that </=5% of women cannot nurse due to medical conditions. That leaves 95%of us who can, with support systems in place, experience long-term breastfeeding.

We know that most breastfeeding failure occurs when there is a lack of education, family and peer support. The whole village needs to get on board. Support is crucial in the first few weeks, and peer support is one of the greatest predictors for successful breastfeeding, along with frequent consultation with a certified lactation consultant and a new moms support group as needed. Most medical insurance companies have seen the light, and knowing of the long-term cost savings, now cover lactation services.

Not long ago, WIC distributed vouchers to low-income mothers for formula, a demographic for which health issues are more common. We got the hospitals to stop distributing “samples” of artificial formula. These women learn that breastfeeding will lower their grocery bills and lessen their medical costs.

Yes, there are challenges for most women at first. Between sleep deprivation, and the social, relational and physical adjustments new moms make, things can be tough. Again, support of family, peers and lactation consultants, is key for long-term nursing relationships.

Mother-friendly policies in the workplace is another area in which we’ve seen progress. Having a dedicated space for moms to pump and store milk, or have places to nurse in privacy are important. We need to keep pressing on this one until it becomes the norm.

And while we’re at it, for those still-backward parts of the world where mothers are expected to go nurse their hungry babies in a bathroom stall? NOT okay. How would YOU like to eat your meal in a public lavatory?

All I can add is that my own children were obviously healthier than some of their peers. one child has never taken antibiotics, and the other had one ear infection at age three, when he began pre-school.

In addition, they’ve been raised vegetarians, and I believe this has contributed to their robust health.

Someone once said to me, “Breastfeeding is the first promise we make to our children.”
http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org/

(C)GoshGusPublishing(ascap)2013

September 20, 2012

La strada panoramica

There are times to keep one’s stories close, and there comes a time to share them with the innocent involved because it is also his history. Timing, boundaries, the effect the information may generate with other parties is tricky business. As a mother, I believe my children deserve to know their complete history. You have to gauge your child’s maturity. Too soon, and they may not have perspective. And then there is understanding that waiting too long can create resentment. They want the truth, and they deserve it.

My timing in these matters can and has missed the mark, but when giving a young adult child bits of their story previously hidden, especially those factual parts steeped in my own deep emotion, when is there ever a right time? Tricky also because in some cases, my perspective is biased to a point where there is only one point.

Recently prompted by a reference to a possible future road trip involving side trips and scenic routes, something long suppressed surfaced. I told my child one of his stories. I started with a disclaimer that he would learn some facts, and some bias, and I would be honest about when the lines crossed.

I was heavily pregnant, just six weeks to go. The idea of going for a ride up the coast to a nice spot seemed a good idea. But the trip was long, and I always had to pee. We made frequent stops, but I had to concentrate on holding it. After an hour or so, I wanted to go home. This trip had become exhausting. But no, the driver, the father of this child, decided I would feel better when we got to this specific land’s end, so he kept going, and my resentment increased.

Soon we were travelling in our old Jeep down a pot-holed, rocky road, full of dust on a hot day in mid September. My discomfort grew to abject misery. I felt every bump and shake, and my Braxton-Hicks contractions became increasingly painful.

I begged him to slow down. I told him this was not good for me or the baby. He seemed most focused on his own enjoyment. He kept saying, “Buck up. We’re almost there.” Which of course we were not. I’ve never reviewed a map to be certain, but I believe the dirt road was about twenty miles.

We got to the destination, and yes, it was lovely. But I was not feeling well. I was nauseous. I went to the loo at the visitor center and threw up my lunch. All the while the pre-labor contractions came and went. After a short nap on the sand, and lots of water they stopped.

The ride home was better, but by this time I was angry and in tears. He drove more slowly, but spewed a litany of reasons as to why I was such a wimp: I didn’t exercise enough; I didn’t get out enough; I was too consumed with being pregnant; and why were we even having this baby when we were having so much trouble with our relationship. (That last one came up again on the walk between parking the car and a two block waddle to the hospital.) I’ve since learned that this is the language of a bully.

As the story goes, we made it home. There was tension, which was usual, and I went to sleep without supper.

Next day, I had a doctor’s appointment. I got into the shower, and in the course of washing up, I felt my amniotic fluid leaking.

How could this be? I was just entering the thirty-fifth week of pregnancy. I used a piece of Nitrazine tape I had on hand, and it was blue, which was positive for amniotic fluid. Oh shit. This baby is coming too early.

Off to the doctor. I told her about the previous days outing, and she asked me “What was he thinking?”  As she examined me, my little leak turned into a gush all over her table and floor. The membranes had ruptured, and I was going to have this baby. I went home to get some things, and tried to track down my husband, who was two hours away in a business meeting. When he got home, we headed to the hospital during which his insensitive and absurd comment, still burned into my brain, was uttered. I understand his statement was the expression of a compilation of fears unfiltered at an emotional time. But really, his inability to filter is part of what doomed my respect for him.
I was set up with an IV of antibiotics, and the plan was to give me 24 hours to go into labor naturally. The odds of the baby having respiratory issues was about 50/50, his gender making him more vulnerable, as neonate boys produce less surfactant, a substance which allows the lungs to work smoothly. If he weighed in over six pounds, he would just be “pre-term.” Babies under six pounds are premature. I had to get my head together, put my fears aside and birth this baby.

His was an easy birth. He weighed six and a half pounds, and but a for a transitory episode of struggling to get his lungs going, he was plump and pink with blond hair.

When I started this essay, I brought up the ethical question of how much and when to tell an almost adult child. This is the hard part. This fabulous boy, though within normal ranges, was developmentally on the far side. He later had challenges with fine motor skills, and minor learning issues which he has learned to manage and for the most part outgrown. He is a solid student, a creative thinker, and one of the kindest people I know. He is tall and gorgeous.

But I told him of the long road trip, and my belief that his birth was early due to it, and my bitterness over knowing that a few weeks longer in the oven may have made his school days less harrowing. I blame his father, but it’s pathetic because his father discounted my knowledge, went against medical advice and forced us on that drive. I don’t want him to resent his father over this. How can I be objective in this situation? I don’t think it possible. My son will make up his own mind.

(c)GoshGusPublishing(ascap) 2012

May 28, 2012

Gratitudine

Om moment tonight: I was sitting in the dark in my front garden on this warm spring evening when one of the Box People trucks cruised past. I had 4 big boxes in the house, so I zipped inside, snagged ’em, and ran to the corner where the truck had pulled over. A nice man who spoke little English took my boxes, broke them down, and gave me a big smile, which I returned.  The universal language.

These people work hard every night collecting cardboard for cash.  Many in this big city who know of them, take cardboard out  late at night to the corner, where one of the trucks will see the pile. This is not litter.  This is income for food and rent and clothing. It is always gone by sunrise.

They are but one lane on the highway of a two hundred year old tradition in this country. Newcomers working hard to make a new life, and finding creative ways to get by, making work of things most of us never consider.

That my paternal grandparents sailed across the on the Martha Washington at the beginning of the 20th Century and made their way to Colorado still astounds me. Stephen Fry talks about a beguiling theory that America is composed of people who share a belief that “good enough” is not enough. As the first post-Enlightenment community of governance and ideals, we are a people whose ancestors (with two important exceptions) stayed behind because they refused the risk. For more on this discussion, here is a conversation between Mr. Fry and Craig Ferguson: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWDzfkWDClk&feature=iv&annotation_id=DrPinch2190_annotation_508875

The Box People are my people.  Our people. Help them out.  Last night, I needed a reminder of how damn lucky I am, and how humble work is not beneath me.

(c)GoshGusPublishing(ascap)2012

August 20, 2010

Passaggio: How Could It Be?

Yesterday was tough. Exactly a day to a time many years ago when I watched my high school sweetheart drive off to college, car packed full of LPs, stereo, and some clothes, I found myself  helping my eldest son move into his freshman dorm.

Among all the mixed emotions of the day, I could not get the picture out of my mind of seeing that old car pull out and go. I felt so alone then. Abandoned.

Those feelings welled up again yesterday. I recognized them, and across the years the visceral memory was fresh. I had done this before, had seen a young man I loved take a big step away from me and into the excitement of university life.

There is a pain so deep, so familiar, and so very strange as well. It is surreal. Both strong and gentle men. Both reliable Pisces. Both good friends.

There are, of course, differences.

A child I carried, birthed and cradled in my arms became a man so fast that I’m absolutely stunned.

How many times have I endured the unsolicited advice to savor every minute with my child because it all flies by so quickly?  Higher mind knows this. Heart fights it. Helpful people annoy.

A friend of mine who is a fabulous father told me that he’s been depressed about it for several years. Worse with each child. He warned me to be ready for more helpful comments from the well-intentioned about how wonderful it must be to finally have a quiet, empty home. From what planet do these people launch?

To give them the benefit, I’ll assume some people prefer the distance from their children. For me, as for my friend, these kids are interesting, interested people. The idea that months will turn before I share coffee at the kitchen table with my son is unimaginable. But it is the new reality. No matter what, I can’t change the facts. As with all passages, I can struggle or I can choose to just roll with it. .

I knew this day would come. But nothing can prepare you for it when your time arrives. Your heart gets ripped out, and the hardest part of it all is to not transmit the depth of your pain to your child. He knows your sadness, but he will never know the whole story until it becomes his turn to experience a similar day with his own offspring.  To come unhinged in his presence would be selfish. He doesn’t need my baggage with all the changes he is undergoing.

We raise them to leave. If I’ve done my job well, my son will embrace this new journey. I will as well. I love you son!

(c)GoshGusMusic(2010)photo cjarc(c)

June 20, 2010

Reflective Haiku I

Two old lady friends-
A neurotic depressive
And a bipolar Buddhist.

Both afraid of death.
Both worn down by the journey
Of fighting demons.

Breathing in and out,
Each reminding her sister
They have each other.

Each floats her own way
And fights against the darkness
By treading water.

Each knows she is loved
But often forgets this fact.
Hold on, wait it out.

The badness will pass
It’s just a matter of time
Keep faith in God’s love.

(c)GoshGusMusic(ascap)2010/(c) photo cjarc/Grace Cathedral

June 8, 2010

Perche: It’s Been A Long Time

After forty years of wedlock, the Gores are calling it.  The news was everywhere this week.  Another crap thing to awaken me. Not that there is a lack of hard news more deserving of consideration. I made the mistake of reading below the fold on a couple of online news sources. Big mistake letting my eyes wander down to “comments” sections, where evidence of the demise of civilization lives.

Bilious remarks. So distressing to read what people will write because they can.  Even if somewhere in their witlessness they possess a  modicum of decency and common sense,  this medium allows the freedom of abandoning social civility filters. That’s the thing about the internet-observing the dichotomous nature of human behavior. Why is it that there is so little grey area, no via media?

Trending on Twitter, Gore pick-up lines. I just cannot find the humor in this, likely due to my sensitivities around these issues. Too close to home and all.

For me, the topic at hand is discomforting. Why would anybody have a run of forty years and then take a walk? Closer to home, why would anyone have a go for a quarter century and then say “Basta?”

Coming  to such radical action after so many years is never made casually.  At least I can’t imagine such a decision lacking gravitas and discernment. It takes thoughtful examination.  I found some statistics which correlate length of marriage to divorce rates.

“Marriages are most susceptible to divorce in the early years of marriage. After 5 years, approximately 10 % of marriages are expected to end in divorce – another 10 % (or 20 % cumulatively) are divorced by about the tenth year after marriage. However, the 30% level is not reached until about the 18th year after marriage while the 40% level is only approached by the 50th year after marriage.”

Rose M. Kreider and Jason M. Fields, “Number, Timing, and Duration of Marriages and Divorces: 1996”, U.S. Census Bureau Current Population Reports, February 2002, p. 18. http://tinyurl.com/2eukywl

Am I reading this correctly?  The longer the marriage, the higher the divorce rate?  Do these facts not belie our assumptions that marriages which  fail do so early on?  Those first years require much adjustment,  faith in the relationship, and commitment to the institution to keep a couple focused. Sometimes it’s a matter of absolute, unmitigated will.

(Achtung!  I did not interpret these statistics correctly. Please refer to the comment posted by our resident astrophysicist, Claude Plymate, who will explain things clearly. Thank you, Claude.)

By fifty years of marriage, forty percent of all couples have split? It’s both shocking and telling.

Why do people make the choice, especially women, who are almost certainly entering a  social market for a new partner in which they can’t compete with women twenty years younger?  Old problem.  Middle aged men, especially Alpha males, can collect and trade on experience and  financial stability, qualities young women find attractive.  Middle aged women find they lack a corresponding allure, and the pond is full of men their age and older who are not Alphas.

It’s a cultural disease.

What about these women who find their decades long marriage over?  Take the circumstance of  twenty years as a stay-at-home mother and wife. A woman has managed a household so her partner is able to pursue and excel at his chosen career.  She has used her time to nurture children, volunteer in schools and community, perhaps created a little home-based business to supplement the family income for those “extras.”

Why on earth would a woman with the first three levels of Maslow’s pyramid even consider stepping out alone when the odds are stacked against her?

Since I invoked Maslow, let’s take a quick review of his hierarchy of human needs as the foundation of self actualization and authenticity, and see if we can connect the dots a bit.  As I took a minor degree in Humanistic Psychology, Maslow  was and remains one of my primary influences. To some readers, this might be dismissed as fuzzy, touchy-feely nonsense. Maybe. If your paradigm is structured around Empiricism, the Humanists can drive you bonkers. Human behavior belongs to Rationalism. One hopes.

So, back to our married woman who has stepped into the elevator shaft. In her experience, she has clearly achieved the first level of the pyramid by having her basic physiological needs met. A roof over her head, a way to feed her family- basic stuff which human beings have sought since we decided caves made good houses.

On the second level, Maslow  discusses the human desire for a related physiological need- security. Put  a door on the cave so the bears don’t break in and munch on your kids like so many tater tots.

On level three, having made the cave homey and secure, we have the ability to seek and sustain relationships which create community. Maslow explains this as love and belonging. We are predisposed to love those with whom we share the cave and create friendships with the inhabitants of neighboring caves.

It is on the next level that things become complicated. We begin playing in the higher mind zone. Our esteem needs have to do with how we feel about ourselves both as individuals and in relation to others. If we do not feel valued, if we lack self-respect and/or do not feel it from our relationships, our spirit begins eroding.  We get stuck on this level. We forget about the cave and the door and the full larder, and we can no longer fully experience love and belonging. A hitch now negates the first three levels.

From this level, we look up and see that we ought to be moving through a place wherein we begin realising our inner potentials. We seek meaning and purpose in order to experience self-actualisation. If we have been busy with the business of meeting more basic needs, that distraction at some point ceases to serve us, and we become distressed over a conclusion that we have not been living authentically.

A kind of madness takes root. The desire for truth in us is so strong that vanity is overrun. It is here where the messiness catches up. We can’t fix ourselves, we can’t fix the relationship. There is an experience of harm over-balancing good.

And so we make the agonizing decision to walk away.

Why would one choose to leave knowing the odds are that the balance of one’s life will be spent alone? Hows does a woman find a humble job, let alone a viable career in a hideous recession?

Aye, but you brought it on yourself now, didn’t you?  What an idiot. Right?

For the sixty percent who make the long haul, surely many of those marriages came to similar crossroads and for whatever reason decided to carry on, conscious of and accepting of compromises. I suspect more than a few stay put out of fear over losing the lower half of the pyramid. They bear their esteem and self-potential needs silently. Or not.

I have to believe that there is a good portion in this demographic who have had the right mix of personalities, maturity, purpose and maybe some alchemical influence to live contentedly.

Somewhere the Gores got stuck, like so many of us. Unlike so many of us, Tipper is not going to be out trolling for a minimum wage job.

I wish them well.

(c)GoshGusMusic (ascap) 2010

May 21, 2010

Tesori? Laundry Lost and Found

Filed under: Faith,Kids and Family,motherhood — by SAMM @ 1:01 pm
Tags: ,

Having fallen far behind in laundry chores, I made a deal with myself that if I focused on the task and made significant progress, I would indulge in one evening of not worrying. About anything.

Those of you closest to me understand my attachment to worrying, often about things over which I have little or no control. The worry is how I work at the problem, searching for some logical or rational solution, or even a smidge of greater understanding. It’s not a good habit and is often counter-productive.

Now I feel guilty for worrying. Oh, for Pete’s sake!

Because I am trying to get through the job, I hurried the first load, neglecting to check pockets before the wash cycle (yet another sin). As I pulled the stuff to go into the dryer, I found the following:
* pocket comb
* leather pouch imprinted with “Flagyl I.V., in which lives
a masculine manicure set- go figure
* Sephora lip gloss in Precious Pink
* Hohner “C” harmonica

And I made $20.00, freshly laundered.

P.S. Second load presented a hoodie with a disposable ice pack in the pocket. No complaints from the troops of any injury.

(c)GoshGusMusic(ascap)2010

April 2, 2010

Pace e tenebrae

Filed under: Faith,Kids and Family,meditation,Triduum,Uncategorized — by SAMM @ 1:59 am
Tags: , ,


The meal and the Meal was consumed, the feet lovingly washed, the altar stripped, the dishes and wine glasses cleaned and put away as we began a journey thru the Paschal Triduum. It is dark and quiet now, and we rest.
We rest and wait and search deeper into our consciousness, seeking the stillness we often misplace.

A kind and loving man sat on his knees & washed my feet, dried them gently, and looked up at me and said, “Thank you.”

(c)GoshGusMusic (ascap) 2010

March 16, 2010

Ostinato!

I’ve seen this in the Older One. Now in the younger brother. There is a certain predictable progression.

The New Yorker is flipped though for the cartoons. Then a movie review is discovered. One day, you find your previously sacred  “Mom has first dibs” rule casually violated, but you do a little happy dance in your heart. The Atlantic disappears along with Popular Science. Eventually all three reappear in the loo library.

The language gene has firmly implanted into the next generation.  Another item check off the Mommy List.
(c)GoshGusMusic (ascap) 2010

March 1, 2010

Canto a Dispetto

He is a caged animal.  Acting from instinct which overshadows a profound intellect,  he holds hostage the very ones he claims to love.  He lashes out without weighing his words because he has never learned to temper his verbal impulses. It has been so all his life.

So he bullies and threatens. He stomps his feet and uses his fists because he confuses contrary opinion as rejection.

There is no comprehension, no acceptance that one can agree to disagree yet breathe the same air.

Because of these things, his wife has left him, and his children avoid him.

He pays the family bills. In the past ten months, he has provided no grocery money for his family. His water-tight plan is to starve them because if they suffer enough, the employment he demands of his estranged wife will manifest out of the ether.  Then he will be free.  He does not imagine his captivity is self-imposed and is his commitment.

The use of force, bullying, degradation and threats repeats in an endless rhythm in the wild animal mind. There is no escape from this way of being. The cage remains. A cage of his making.

(c) GoshGusMusic (ascap) 2010

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