I'm passionate about philosophy, but after having my girls I'm even more passionate about Mommy Matters

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Nostalgia for Something I Haven't Experienced Yet

     There are many definitions of the word 'nostalgia', but all of these definitions agree that it is a feeling that accompanies fond thoughts of the past. The last two days I know that I felt nostalgia in this way, but I think I felt it about the future as well. 
     My cousin, (in the image on your left holding Squeaker), just graduated from high school on Thursday, which was crazy for me to fathom because I remember holding him when he was just in infant. He has always been like a little brother to me and I love him so much, so I did go down memory lane a bit thinking of our good times growing up together. I remember playing on the trampoline together and climbing up the apple tree that grew in this front yard. We went to the pool together, snowboarded together, I can't help but feel weirdly reminiscent when looking at him and realizing that he is going to college next year. I had a great time remembering the past and seeing him again, celebrating his accomplishments throughout high school. I loved being a little kid and discovering new things everyday, which I still do but not at all in the same way. So when I look at my daughter, I can't help but get excited about the future and imagining the memories we will create together. 
     I am so happy to be a mother and able to watch my own child go through the struggles, as well as the joys, of childhood and adolescence. Christmas is more magical as a kid, Halloween more scary, everything is amplified because children aren't jaded by experiencing the world yet. This is how I started to feel nostalgic about things that haven't happened yet, almost waiting for the past to happen. It's an odd feeling and a silly way to word it, but I can't find a better way to explain how I feel. 
     This idea is not a new one either, which I found interesting. I stumbled upon a work by Berel Lang entitled "Postmodernism in Philosophy: Nostalgia for the Future, Waiting for the Past" wherein Lang says, "What this means for postmodernism is that in it, too, philosophy, waiting again on the new present, will be tactical, moving from the immediacy of particular moments of experience, incited by the moments themselves... Nostalgia, when it is spontaneous, is for the future; anticipation, when it is not merely wistful, is of the past. This is why philosophers would say at first -- and then again and again in their history -- 'Let us begin.' Let us, then, begin. Again." So, Lang is elegantly discussing the ways in which philosophy works and how postmodern philosophy is inaccurately defined by many as simply reenacting philosophy as it once was. Lang believes that postmodern philosophical thoughts are immediate experiences that are brought on by experiencing the moments spontaneously, it is not a planned and deliberate act of doing philosophy in a way that it once was at all. If philosophy is done as it once was then it would be a consequence of the immediacy, not some plan to discuss philosophy in an old fashioned way. I like how Lang puts this idea and I'm enjoying reading his work. However, the point and purpose of this blog post is to say that I feel that I am experiencing this nostalgia for the future just as postmodern philosophy is according to Lang. 
     I believe that while I experience a single moment in time I am creating a past and soon that creation will be something that Squeaker will also actively participate in and remember someday. I might recreate the past, but not necessarily deliberately or the same exact way that it once was (like with cloth diapering). I have learned from how my family raised me and how I have created myself via making individual choices, which make me decide how I immediately react to a given situation and how I raise my daughter. Our memories and pasts will be different, even if some things are similar (like going to the pool or playing on the trampoline).
     This might all seem backwards, an anticipation of the past and nostalgia for the future, but it works in my mind somehow and I'm glad that philosophers much more educated than me have also thought of this concept in parallel to how the history oh philosophy is created. It is as though postmodern philosophy is a child being raised by contemporary philosophers, who may mimic the past in some ways and create new ways of arguing at the same time. No matter what the way is, the philosophy and the child are new and different from any other seen before. New futures, presents, and pasts are made in each moment of every life. 

     "I do believe in beginnings, middles, and ends -- but not necessarily in that order."   
                                                      ~ Godard  

(my other cousin playing with Squeaker)


Monday, May 20, 2013

Guilt As Self-indulgence

     Yesterday I was reading in a book and the following dialogue struck me: 
     "There you go again."
     "Feeling guilty... you are a wonderful, honorable man--
     but you really are quite prone to self-indulgence."
     Guilt? As Self-Indulgence? "I never considered it that way
     After reading this I realized that I hadn't ever considered it that way before either. This subsequently made me think back to a conversation Husband and I had last week wherein he asked me if I ever don't feel guilty for doing something or not doing something. I said I guess I don't. I was talking to him about how I feel guilty for not making any money right now because I have put us into debt with my student loans. Plus I'm the one spending our money since I do the shopping as the stay at home parent. For the first time since I was about 16 I'm not making any money and it's just weird. This guilt thing isn't a new problem for me though, there are other times in my life that I hold over my own head because I made a mistake and can't forgive myself, despite the fact that no one was hurt and no one else seems to remember or care as much as I do about it. Not only are there specific mistakes I've made that I can't get over, I also tend to feel guilty if I'm not productive enough, which prevents me from ever really having a day off. My husband constantly tries to get me to just relax and let go, but for some reason I can't. If our house is a mess I feel guilty because I should be cleaning more, if I just "waste" the day away reading or looking stuff up online I feel guilty for not doing something else that I think "needs" to get done.
     My friend wrote a post on her blog awhile ago about self-esteem. I think that most of the time I have good self-esteem, especially since I've been married because my husband is always so good to me. While I was pregnant I was proud of being big and didn't really feel fat or sad about getting stretchmarks (I would have preferred to not have them of course, but I feel like they are just proof of my motherhood). I don't really think I'm one of those people who needs to be constantly complimented in order to feel like a beautiful woman or a good mother, but I obviously still judge myself when I don't do all that I want to do or think I should do. Why is that? 
     Maybe the passage from my book is right and I have given into a form of self-indulgence. I'm making my agenda and the list I have in my head more important than anything else, especially my own peace of mind and self-worth. So today I have decided to be better to myself and let these things go. All of the little mistakes I have made and haven't let myself forget are going out the window because I have learned my lesson from them, now it is time to learn an even bigger lesson. Not only is it more important to be happy than right, it is also more important to be happy than productive. It is nice to be right and productive, but it is better to let those things go and be at peace with myself instead. As long as Squeaker is taken care of and I'm doing all I can for her then everything else is just extra. If the house is clean, good, but if it's not that's good too. 
     I hate that there is a stigma in the world concerning stay at home mothers. They are lazy women with too much time on there hands who aren't ambitious. I can't believe that people think this way and when someone asks me, "What do you do?" I feel almost - you guessed it - guilty to say, "I'm a stay at home mom." I am not a lazy person and I'm not going to let myself feel guilty and lazy for not getting all the chores done everyday or making a four course meal everyday. I don't have too much time on my hands, if anything I have less than ever before and although I might not be ambitious about building a career outside of the home right now, I haven't ever been more ambitious in my whole life. I'm not ambitious about what society considers best for the economy, but I am ambitious about making my home a safe haven for my baby girl and helping her to be the best person she can be. I might not be climbing up some corporate latter, but I am raising a human being who will be helping to decide our future.
     So pretty much I wrote this because I knew that I needed to write it down before I started to let myself feel guilty for something else like not doing the dishes today or buying cloth diapers for my daughter when I'm not making the money that's paying for them. 
     I hope that all of you reading this know that you shouldn't feel guilty for doing what you love and being happy. I'm not going to anymore either. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Cloth Diapering: Disposables Are No Longer An Option

     Since I started to experiment with cloth diapers and try the three different brands I originally bought (Rumparooz, bumGenius, and Fuzzibunz) I have fallen in love with cloth diapering. I have also been converted to using cloth wipes with them and find it easier than separating the garbage from the laundry. I still like using disposable wipes for some things, such as when I am cleaning Squeaker's face and hands. Now that I use cloth diapers I have found that disposables are actually more annoying and less enjoyable over all. I had far more leaks with disposables and I also had to apply Desitin to Squeaker at least every other day, but I no longer have those worries with cloth. I even use cloth diapers overnight now and have not had any issues to report.
     This is where I stand with these three brands: Rumparooz are great, but to be honest I think they are a little overpriced (between $23 and $25 each) and I can't find them on sale or for a more practical price anywhere. The Rumparooz I have has a Velcro closure as well and I prefer snaps because they do not wear out as easily (however snaps do not always provide the perfect closure fit and Velcro fills in gaps where snaps do not). Fuzzibunz have a great custom fit and are the least bulky pocket diapers I have seen, but the elastic system that makes them custom fit is still too cumbersome for me. I don't like messing with buttoning up the waist and leg elastics as Squeaker grows into the bigger size, I also imagine that if I had two children in diapers Fuzzibunz would not be practical (unless I had two different sets for each child) because I would have to change the elastics every time I used them. The Fuzzibunz are also harder to stuff with extra inserts because they are slimmer, so I would not trust using them overnight. BumGenius, on the other hand, are my favorite! They are slightly bulky, but I have found that many clothes give some extra room in the butt anyway and they fit just fine. I haven't had the bumGenius leak, even over night, and they are easy to stuff with more inserts when I need to. Sometimes that same website (www.cottonbabies.com) has clearance and "second sales" that make them even cheaper (I bought some for $11 each). I have been doing more research on other brands and their reviews as well, such as Thirsties and Oh Katy! They also seem to be viable options, but many reviews say that Oh Katy! are worthless after the infant reaches a certain age because they always leak. Thirsties are very popular and could be good too, but they come in different sizes instead of one-size options like the three I've already tried. I don't want to buy multiple sizes if I don't have to. So, from my experiences so far these have been my results.
     I also decided to use cloth wipes after reading several blogs and other sources that made them sound like a better option than disposables. There are several options for cloth that can be used when making cloth wipes. Flannel is supposed to be very good, but I haven't used it yet, I plan on cutting up some receiving blankets that Squeaker never uses to make more wipes. For now, however, some small thin Carter's washcloths that I got for a baby shower gift have been working well (I was given about 20 of them and only need a couple for her baths). I have also been making my own wipe solution to make wet wipes: 
        1/4 Cup baby shampoo/body wash
        1/4 Cup olive oil
        About 12 squirts of aloe vera gel
        3-4 Cups of warm water    
I mix these ingredients together gently and put them into used pump or spray bottles that I've cleaned out really well (put any extra in a mason jar for later use). I have tried several different methods for making the wipes damp when I use them and the way I have found least wasteful and most useful is to spray or pump a little bit of the solution on the wipe right before I use it. They clean Squeaker's bum so much easier than disposables and I just wash them in the same load as the diapers. 
     When I get a new diaper I wash it once before using it and since it hasn't even been used yet I don't mind washing it with other loads of laundry (some sources say to wash and dry them around 4 times before using them because it helps to make them more absorbent, but I am lazy and just do it once). When I do a load of dirty diapers I wash at least 7 at a time, it really depends upon how many diapers you have and the size of your washer because the load shouldn't be too big or too small. I put the load on a cold rinse cycle first, then wash with some detergent (color and scent free) with hot water, I then rinse them again with warm water, and the final step is to dry very thoroughly. If I had a clothes line then I would line dry the covers, I am thinking about making a clothes line myself to use in my backyard, because the sun is supposed to be really good at bleaching out stains and killing any remaining germs. So far no stains have remained on my diapers anyway, but I will be adding about 1/4 cup of bleach with the hot wash cycle once a month as well. When Squeaker starts eating solid foods I will have to write more about the cleaning process because it will be slightly more complicated when she isn't solely breastfed anymore. I am planning on using a sprayer that attaches to the toilet and possibly flushable liners to get rid of the extra waste before washing them. However, it is interesting to note that even disposable diapers are supposed to have extra waste flushed before they are thrown away, according to toxipedia "It is illegal to throw away human feces".  
     The APHA (American Public Health Association)  is also wary of disposable diapers, "Knowing that more than 100 different enteric viruses, including polio and hepatitis6 are known to be excreted in human feces and that these viruses can live for months after the stool has passed from the body; and realizing that the product labels instructing consumers to empty the feces into the toilet before disposing of the diaper are not commonly followed by consumers... [the APHA]  
1. Supports public education to educate consumers about diapering choices and their potential environmental consequences so that they can make an informed choice;
2. Supports consumer education so that if disposable diapers are used, the users dispose of them in a prudent manner so as to minimize the risk of disease transmission;
3. Supports research on the health implications of disposal of disposable diapers in the solid waste stream;
4. Encourages disposable diaper manufacturers to modify products to develop a recyclable product or one that generates less solid waste;
5. Encourages disposable diaper manufacturers to provide better instructions on the packaging about the proper disposal method of human excreta;
6. Urges manufacturers of disposable diapers to act responsibly in marketing their products; and
7. Supports research on the health, safety, and handling of various types of diapers (home-laundered, cloth diaper services, and disposable diapers) in day care settings in order to guide the development of standards for these settings."   
     So, in a way cloth and disposables are the same except most people don't flush the extra waste and just throw everything away together. Plus, when feces is thrown away it can cause issues. Anyway, this is just some research I have done and information I have found in a short amount of time. Let me know if any information you have found contradicts me or if I am in the wrong. I hope this post helps some of you to become a little more interested in cloth diapering because I love using them and disposables are no longer an option for me. I say they are no longer an option for me because I obviously don't want to force anyone who is babysitting Squeaker to use cloth diapers if they don't want to and I am not judging people who use disposables instead. Cloth just makes me happier and I think it makes Squeaker happier too.

Helpful links with more information:

Sunday, May 12, 2013

What is a Mother?

     Happy Mother's Day to all women reading this post. I have been thinking about how this is my first Mother's Day as an "official" mother, but really there are many ways to define what a mother is and I could have been a mother without physically giving birth to Squeaker. The video on this page is a beautiful example of the types of service that mothers provide. However, I want to emphasize that there is not a single set of virtues that define what a mother is, especially a good mother. When I was a little child I remember calling my maternal grandmother "mom" and thought that I had more than one mom because she took care of me as much as my biological mother took care of me. All women are different and all mothers are different, this does not mean that one is better than the other or one is more of a mother than another. A woman who adopts her children, or fosters children, or never has children of her own is still a mother to the children, and even adults, she cares for a mentors. I said "even adults" because I think that everyone needs a mother. Those who are old and have mothered many other people within their lifetimes still need to be taken care of and loved, "mentored" or "guided" through the pains of growing older. 
      Elder Jeffrey R. Holland  has a beautiful talk about motherhood and talked about Victor Hugo and something he wrote about a mother: "She broke the bread into two fragments and gave them to her children, who ate with eagerness. 'She hath kept none for herself,' grumbled the sergeant. 'Because she is not hungry,' said a soldier. 'No,' said the sergeant, 'because she is a mother.'" There is a sense of divine service and a great work that mothers do when this dialogue us considered closely. I believe that any woman can sacrifice for another and be a good mother.
     I do not mean to belittle the process of pregnancy and child birth or the trials of rearing children, but I simply want to emphasize that the world is filled with angels ready to help accomplish Heavenly Father's will and all of those women should be celebrated today, for the wonderful mothers to this world that they are. 
      I wonder, when a mother is not a "good" mother towards one, does that make her a bad mother altogether? For example, is the step mother in Cinderella a bad mother or is she just a bad mother to Cinderella? Maybe she is a bad mother because she still isn't setting a good example for her biological daughters. Maybe this is a silly thing to be focusing on, but I just wonder sometimes about how I can be a good mother or what really defines a good mother.
     I never fully embraced the power I have always had to be a good mother to the people around me and be one of these angels to others, until I had Squeaker. Only recently have I come to understand the power I hold to become a good mother to everyone around me. As I strive to set that example for my biological daughter then that is possibly the best way I can exercise my motherhood towards her as well. Thank you to all of the amazing women in my life who have helped me to become who I am today.
      I really want to know your opinions on motherhood though. Are there specific virtues that all mothers have?
     In Jeffrey R. Holland's talk he says: "Remember that families are the highest priority of all... Mothers, we acknowledge and esteem your faith in every footstep. Please know that it is worth it then, now, and forever... Yours is the work of salvation, and therefore you will be magnified, compensated, made more than you are and better than you have ever been as you try to make honest effort, however feeble you may sometimes feel that to be... You are doing God’s work. You are doing it wonderfully well. He is blessing you and He will bless you, even—no, especially—when your days and your nights may be the most challenging. Like the woman who anonymously, meekly, perhaps even with hesitation and some embarrassment, fought her way through the crowd just to touch the hem of the Master’s garment, so Christ will say to the women who worry and wonder and sometimes weep over their responsibility as mothers, 'Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole (Matt 9:22).'"

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Graduations & Blessings


     I graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in December 2012, but last Friday I walked in the College of Humanities Convocation Ceremony. At first I didn't really see the point in participating, I already had my degree and it just seemed like a silly tradition, but in the end I am grateful that I did go. I have always planned on earning a PhD, my original plan was to go to graduate school immediately after finishing my undergraduate work. However, during my final semester last Fall I was pregnant and that changes everything. I still planned on returning to school during the Fall in 2013, but as I pondered what that would mean (namely Husband and I both going to school, having to do homework while taking care of Squeaker at the same time and continuing to go deeper into debt) and I decided that it would be better for us if I stayed home to take care of Squeaker. Daycare expenses are so high and I am young enough that I could go back to school anytime down the road. In fact, at my graduation ceremony there was a woman standing near where I was sitting and holding a camera. When the PhD candidates were announced and a woman (in her 50s) stood to be hooded the woman sitting near by stood up and cheered yelling, "Go mom! Woo!" She started taking pictures like crazy and after her mom sat back down the woman turned and left, probably to sit with the rest of her family farther away from the graduates. I realized that if I didn't earn my PhD until I was in my 50s then Squeaker would be in her 30s and I would be totally OK with that. School will always be there, but Squeaker is changing everyday and I don't want to miss any of it!
     After having Squeaker I found myself feeling even more passionate about staying at home with her than I had when I was just pregnant. Although I love philosophy, campus life, writing and reading scholarly articles, suddenly I felt more than ever before in my life that raising this beautiful human being was my calling. There are some things in my life that I am fairly good at and many things that I am not good at, just like anyone else on earth. I am sometimes a self conscious person who worries about silly little things beyond my control and I even get quite emotionally fragile when I think negative things about myself. Since I have been a mother, on the other hand, I haven't ever felt more confident and sure about what I need to do. I obviously make mistakes and learn the hard way, not everything comes easily, but I have more courage. I am more sure of myself and my abilities as a mother than I am when doing anything else. This career, being a stay at home mom, comes more naturally to me and fits me better than anything else ever has and I am proud to take on the role.
     It is amazing how life changes and how our choices change us as we move along the difficult path. There was a time in my life when I didn't think I would want children at all because the world is so harsh and sad, plus having children would just get in the way of my career ambitions. Now I literally can't imagine enjoying my life so fully as it is without Squeaker in it.
     Squeaker also had a kind of ceremony this past Sunday, she was blessed by Husband at our church. I grew up in the LDS church and saw many babies be blessed in a similar fashion, but it was simply wonderful to be experiencing it for myself. I was so filled with a loving spiritual bliss that I couldn't help but cry a little as I found a renewed testimony of the gospel I believe in and Heavenly Father's love for all his children. I know (through personal experiences and testimony) that believing in love, the possibility of peace, and upholding virtues over vices in this life is the best chance that Squeaker has for finding happiness. I have found a strong belief in these things and I hope to help her find a belief in them as well. This is my career, my calling, and my life now. I have graduated to a new pursuit and been blessed with motherhood.