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

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Why do we use nicknames?

     It seems completely natural, not to mention sometimes very fun, to give people nicknames. Our close friends or family members and, of course, our kids. Where does this desire come from? What is a nickname designating?
      I've found that not only do I make up nicknames for my baby and my husband, but I also use the ones I remember hearing family members use my entire life. I find myself calling Squeaker "shorty", for example, and this is a nickname my step dad always used. Another example is my favorite nickname "squeaks" or "squeaker", which my biological father used sometimes and has obvioulsy become the pseudonym I use for her online. I've noticed many parents, including myself, use nicknames like "bug" or "stink bug". There are nicknames that simply shorten a person's name, like Squeaker's cousin has started to call her "Squeak" (well, actually a shortened version of her real name, but you get the idea). I find this tendency baffling, but I also really enjoy it.
     Perhaps we are simply finding more ways to voice our affections, whether it be in a teasing way or a loving way. Nicknames can also be cruel, but I don't want to get into those here because I want to focus on the nicknames we give our own loved ones. Sometimes I think nicknames are also used out of laziness or striving to create a closeness/informality. It seems odd, to me anyway, to call my mom "Amber" or my grandma "Lorraine". However, I have always called my step dad by his first name, even though he has been there to raise me since I was around 5 years old. At the time I think it was a way for me to make sure that I didn't replace my biological father and later it just turned into a habit. 
     In a way, nicknaming someone also adds a type of possession. I didn't use nicknames for my husband when we first started dating. I always called him by his full first name and in my phone contacts that was his name. Although, the more time I spent around his family, the more I started to call him by his family nickname instead. Eventually I had to change his name in my phone too, because I didn't know him by his full first name anymore, in a sense. So, in a way that name started by me becoming more familiarized with him and his family. However, I didn't use any of the other nicknames I use now before we got married. In some ways I think that my subconscious was letting me claim him as my own. Familiarizing myself with him more than anyone else and wanting him to know how close I felt to him enabled me to start calling him by other names like "honey", "babe", etc. It would be weird for anyone else to call him by these names. Similarly, it would be weird for one of my friends to start calling Squeaker by some of the nicknames I use for her. Squeaker is my little squeaker, not my friend's. 
     Has anyone else been curious about this? Names are odd things anyway, a name doesn't necessarily specifically designate an object as we sometimes think it does. There are many people named "John Smith", so the name doesn't signify one specific "John Smith". It is an ostensive definition, meaning that it is doing the work of defining something I can physically point to, for example: "That person to my right is 'John Smith'". I don't want to get too metaphysical in a mommy blog, but if you are interesting in further information, Saul A. Kripke wrote a book that I love entitled "Naming and Necessity" that deals with just this.
    Anyway, the real point that I'm trying to make is that nicknames are not essential to a relationship and they designate different things for each person using them. So in that way nicknames are silly and unnecessary, even misleading. However, they also can point to a specific being (like one's child) and convey love for that being, as well as some sort of endearing (I hope) possession.  
     What nicknames do you use for your kids and where do you think they came from? Why do you use them?

 An interesting source I used when searching for nicknames and writing this post: nicknames

Friday, September 20, 2013

Timely Delusional

     How do you prioritize your life as a mother, or simply as a person? I have always felt like I have to accomplish a lot during the day, mostly because I get anxious when I try to sit and relax - leading me to always be doing something. However, this also ends up making me feel like I haven't quite accomplished enough as I slip under my covers to go to bed at night. There will always be at least one other thing I wanted to get done during the day.
     When I was pregnant, and during the first few weeks after having Squeaker, I was able to let myself heal and rest. In the last couple of months, however, I have been on overdrive again. You might wonder why I haven't written on this blog in over a week if that is the case. Well, that is the conundrum I am often faced with. Unfortunately, this blog is pretty low on my priority list when compared to going on walks with Squeaker, cooking, cleaning, or spending all the time I can with my busy husband. 
     How is it, I often wonder, that I never feel like I have enough hours in the day to finish all that I want to do? Why do I have to put so many things I enjoy doing on the low end of my priority list and then not get to them for weeks? I love to knit, but haven't done it at all since I was pregnant, I always wish I could read and write more, I also haven't touched my guitar since before I was pregnant, and sometimes I really just want a bubble bath. I know that these activities are unnecessary and they are personal, selfish activities for myself, but I can't help but wish I had more time to do them. 
     I know I'm not alone here, but it doesn't really help thinking that all other mothers (and possibly people) are in the same boat as me, it's just depressing. Lately I've started to get angry at the fact that the only time I have to do what I want to do - for myself - is around ten at night when I'm already exhausted and I know that I need to go to bed because Squeaker will be getting up at six in the morning. Some of it is a matter of priorities, putting cleaning and other home activities before myself, but a lot of the time I look around my house and think that I wish I had more done in that department as well. 
      I believe that there is something magically misleading about how time works. When I was in school I would think to myself, "I can't wait until I graduate because I will have so much more time to do what I want to do." And when I was working I would think to myself, "If I didn't have this job then I would have so much more time." Not even that long ago I was thinking, "When Squeaker starts to sleep through the night I'll have so much more time to do what I want to do." Well, I don't go to school, I don't have a job anymore, and Squeaker is sleeping through the night pretty much every night (not counting teething nights), but I am working longer hours than I ever have before and feeling more exhausted than I thought possible most days. It just amazes me to think about how we trick ourselves into thinking that someday - somehow - we will have more time, but the truth is that we never will. The only time I have is right now, so how am I spending it? 
     Although I do still feel like I need more time to accomplish all that I desire to accomplish, especially when it comes to personal activities and goals, I can't help but also feel grateful that all of the time I have I am spending with my baby girl. 
      So, please forgive me if you notice that my blog is a bit bare, or my house has crusted food on almost every surface, if my writing is sub-par, or the dinner is take out tonight. I'm a mom, I'm raising a unique individual with needs and I'm trying to do all that I can, in the best way that I can. Isn't that enough?
     Besides, I'll have time when my kids are grown up, right? 


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Please Stop Biting Me!

     I have been experiencing something that many other breastfeeding mothers experience, my baby has started to bite. Now that Squeaker has two lower teeth and is going through intermittent teething pains, she has been biting me every time I try to breastfeed her. It really hurts too, more than once I yelled in pain and Squeaker looked at me in shock, not understanding what the problem was. I tried telling her "no" and being serious with her (for the first time, it doesn't really make sense to scold a baby), but she would just smile and of course didn't understand.
     I debated about what to do and started to give her breast milk in a bottle if she bit me, but she continued to bite me every time. Some people have said that flicking the baby's cheek or other such strategies solve the problem, but I didn't want to do that. It's one thing to try to talk in a serious voice to a baby, but it feels different to start punishing them when they don't understand, plus such conditioning strategies take time and consistency. I don't judge people who use this method, it just isn't for me. There were people who also said that their babies stopped biting, they just did it for a little while or a couple of times, but Squeaker started to do it fairly consistently. I didn't really want to take the risk anymore and I also didn't want to give up breast feeding, Squeaker hasn't ever had formula.
     Now, as a preemptive measure I pump three times a day (which ends up producing 9-10 ounces each time) and give her bottles five times a day. That has been working out well, but it does take extra time. Little by little I warmed up the bottles less and less, so now I can pretty much take the bottle strait out of the fridge and give it to her that way. That is one way to make it take less time, but the pumping itself still can't take much less time. Three times a day is the least amount of times that I'm willing to pump because I don't want to stop producing. 
     It has been a weird transition, but in the end I think it is worth it to be able to keep feeding my baby breast milk. Plus, I won't have to get bit anymore. 
     The five times that I feed Squeaker per day start out with as much breast milk that she will drink, but three of those meals I feed her solid food too. For breakfast I feed her oatmeal and fruit, at lunch I give her some meat or beans with rice and vegetables, then for the afternoon I just feed her breast milk, for dinner I give her more meat or beans with rice stuff (but don't push it as much as at lunch) and make sure she gets a couple of different vegetables or fruits, and for her final meal (which is only about 1.5-2 hours after dinner) I give her more breast milk just before bed. She has been getting used to the schedule and drinks more for the two times a day that aren't supplemented with solids.
     Just so all of you know, if you are considering going the homemade baby food route, Squeaker doesn't like the jarred baby food very much anymore (Squeaker's pediatrician said that might happen because it is more bland than the food I make).
     Through some trial and error, as well as a lot of research, this is what has started to work for me. I hope this helps those of you who are going through the same thing or might go through it someday.