Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Do good parents smoke?

July 5, 2009

That’s a blunt way of posing the question, but it’s definitely one of those issues (there are many), in which I evaluate how I choose someone to date versus how I choose someone to maybe coparent someday. My ex smoked, and he described it once as the lesser of many evils. I didn’t love it but tolerated it, because I knew that to get him to quit would be next to impossible.

And yes, my dad smoked, still does. My mom smokes every once in a while, but hardly enough to count. She used to, and quiet I think when I was maybe 8 or so.

But the person I’m dating now smokes, and it’s funny because it bothers me less because of how it affects me in terms of smelling it, and more because I see it as a moral failing. Harsh, perhaps, but it’s true. And it makes me question whether he would be a good parent to my kids. I know smoke is not something I would want around my children. News reports abound about the danger of smoke to children.

“Parents warned not to smoke at home,” The Observer:

In an interview with The Observer, Sir Liam Donaldson, Britain’s most senior doctor, pledged that there would be a further sustained crackdown on smoking after the ban comes into force in England next Sunday.

He promised renewed public health advertising campaigns to try to educate parents who smoke. ‘We will strengthen and make regular the message to parents about the risks to their children of smoking. This is something we will need to constantly remind them about.

‘The dangers of parents smoking in front of their children are increased risk of respiratory diseases, bronchitis, middle ear infections, asthma attacks in children that are prone to asthma and increased risk to babies if there is a pregnant person in the household.

‘While the number of parents who smoke is falling, children’s exposure to parental smoke remains “a problem area”, he said.

“Health Department Airs New Campaign Targeting Parents Who Smoke,” NYC Department of Health and Human Hygiene:

“When parents smoke, they put their child’s future in danger,” said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, Health Commissioner for New York City. “Every parent fears dying young and leaving children behind, but parents who smoke are more likely to have this nightmare come true. Smoking can kill you and it can harm your child as well. We urge all New Yorkers to quit smoking – if you can’t do it for yourself, do it for your family.”

The Department is simultaneously airing “Cigarettes Are Eating You and Your Kids Alive,” a campaign that portrays the effects of second-hand smoke on children, originally aired in 2008. The graphic images in this commercial remind viewers that secondhand smoke makes children more susceptible to pneumonia or ear infections, and it contributes to lifelong health conditions such as asthma.

I would never tell someone I was dating I didn’t want them to smoke, because that would seem judgmental, rude. Perhaps it is, but I think we subject ourselves to things that we wouldn’t want to subject our children to. I lived with that and I think it’s such a pervasive thing; there’s smoke everywhere, it’s a hazard to the person’s health, and, well, I just don’t like it. I find it more odious than alcohol because it seems dirtier to me, more noxious, perhaps because I never really got the appeal of smoking, personally.

I think it’s a touchy subject, too, because am I judging my own father’s smoking? Not on its face, but then again, I didn’t have a choice of who my parents were. I do have a choice as to who my children’s parents will be, and I can surely say I’d never pick a smoker from a sperm bank, so would I in real life? I don’t know, and this is just one of many “it’s fine for dating, not for my kids” issues that sometimes make me think I’d be better off as a single mom, rather than try to navigate some best case scenario for my children.

I also think kids emulate their parents, they want to be like them in every way, at least when they’re young. They observe closely. When I visit my little cousin, if I touch something that belongs to his mom or his dad, he tells me. Once I slept over unexpectedly and wore his mom’s t-shirt, and he practically tore it off me. “That’s Mommy’s shirt,” he kept saying, not really getting the concept of borrowing. I don’t want my kids to be all, “Those are Daddy’s cigarettes.” I just don’t. It’s not, singularly, a dealbreaker, but I feel that clock ticking so loudly and firmly. There is plenty of work I have to do on myself. I wouldn’t be a fit mother now, certainly, not with all my bags, my debt, my mess, my damage. Maybe I’ll never be one, but I am trying, or trying to try (if there is such a thing), to become a better person, to not be so flaky, to gain more earning power, to become healthy, so I can pass those best values on to my children. So I can love myself rather than hate myself. And maybe I hold too high standards, maybe I am more high maintenance than I like to think of myself, but if that’s the case, so be it. I don’t want my kids to have a smoker for a parent.


On ogling a family on the subway

July 1, 2009

The other day, I was riding the subway with a family. Mom, dad (I’m assuming) and two adorable little kids. It’s been a few days so I don’t remember every detail. Maybe the girl was 4 or 5, with pigtails. The other one was a baby. The dad was possibly checking me out, which is fine, cause I check parents out all the time. Not in a pervy way, I don’t think, but just to see how they interact. At one point, the parents switched off kids, and it was so seamless, like, “Okay, you take her, now you take her.”

I loved that. I watched with envy, wondering how I might ever be able to do that. I love New York, but don’t necessarily see myself riding the subway with my kid. But maybe I will, I don’t know. I think the part I really had trouble seeing myself in was the coordination. It was like they both just knew what to do. I think one person trying to hold two kids in that same way would’ve been impossible. Not impossible to take two kids to school/wherever, but to hold them like they were.

As for me, I couldn’t stop staring. I so often can’t. The kids were just entrancing. Every time I’m in that situation, me with bags and books and stuff, others with little people, I feel like my life is lacking. Because, well, it is. Or rather, it’s full of stuff I don’t want, don’t need. I am trying to pare down, but then, well, I buy books, or request them. “I spend all my days with books trying to disappear” is a line by Elizabeth Elmore of The Reputation, from the song “This Town.” I always think about that song when I feel lost, out of place.

Lately, that’s how New York has felt to me. On one level, it’s comfortable, familiar, but on another, I feel like I will be doing the same things, living the same life, in ten, twenty years, unless I make efforts to change that. I turn 35 on November 10, 2010, and it may sound far away, but it feels so near. It feels like my chances to become a mom are slipping through my hands. I wonder whether I should push to go it alone, or push to try to make that happen with someone, and I’m not sure who. It’s hard to talk about baby making with someone you’re dating, because it brings up so many other issues about life, and lifestyle. The fact is, the way the person I’m dating now and I live wouldn’t work if we had a kid. And the other fact is, I don’t want it to. I don’t want the constant going out, the stress, the deadlines I don’t meet, the panic. I don’t want the sitting at parties wishing I drank so I could have fun like everyone else.

I love socializing, but lately it’s just too much. I’d love to be home with my kid(s). I know I say that and possibly would actually find it drove me crazy, but I do know that this life isn’t working. My place is a disaster, and people think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. I have offers of help, but I can’t, not yet. I need to do it myself, that much I know. I just need the time, and I need to write. I’ve been putting that off and off and off, and I can’t any longer. All of these things, my disorganization, my debt, my mess, my relationship confusion, make me wonder whether my baby feverishness is just a desire for a whole new life, one that I am not a part of, one where I could slip into someone else’s body/brain/life. I hope not, because I think even though it’s scary, I’d be good at being a mom. Whether I can find someone who’d also be good at being a parent, I don’t know, so I’m just working on myself at the moment.

Bump envy

June 26, 2009

I’m not sure if that’s like penis envy or what, but I want one. Bump of my friend Jessica Cutler (married name: Rubio).

Pregnant during the recession: Deborah Siegel

June 13, 2009

I love this Recessionwire piece by Deborah Siegel:

After the initial chortles of glee, I sobered up. Marco is unemployed at 47. I’m 40 years old. We live in 650 square feet. And we are having twins. Soon. Time to lower the price on our apartment—which we had already put on the market in the hope that our family would one day expand. Time to start swimming to get in shape. Time to start worrying, for real now, about that practical of all practicalities: money, and particularly, money for childcare, because I’m intent on continuing my writing career. If ever there was a time for leaping and hoping the bridge will appear, I think you could say we’re there. Right up against the edge of the cliff. Or rather, more accurately, mid-air.

And yet. Beneath thick layers of anxiety, I find that I’m a very pregnant optimist. With my man unemployed and me acting as primary breadwinner for the moment, what an interesting experiment this could be for our gender relations, thought the feminist in me. The “logical” thing might be for Marco to join the newly expanding ranks of Stay-at-Home-Dads, and for me continue to work fulltime. I am, after all, beginning to write a book about a new generation of men, plus I’m equipped to bring in the dough.

But here’s the thing: feminist or not, I don’t want to miss out on the babies. Unexpectedly strong mommy impulse trumps Vulcan logic. And Marco’s not ready to miss out on his career. He wants to keep being a creative, whether outside or inside the home, something I entirely understand. After two or three decades of “becoming,” neither one of us wants to let our professional faculties go dormant. What a Solomon-like decision that would be.

If there’s a hot topless man with a tiny baby, I’m so there

June 12, 2009

Okay, so there are other reasons to go to this event…I am possibly doing a book trailer shoot that day, but we shall see.

Via the blog Women, Girls, Ladies

With a 5-week-old

June 9, 2009

And two writers I know, Deborah Siegel and Anna Lappé, are pregnant. Feels like everyone’s pregnant.

Isn’t Rocco adorable? He’s 5 weeks old. I bought him a t-shirt from WilloToons that says “eat. sleep. rock. repeat.” I look dreadful though – am hitting the gym ASAP.

“I want to have your babies”

April 10, 2009

“I want to have your babies.” I had never said that to anyone before. I’d thought it, once, with S. I’d looked at him and his security and handsomeness and Jewishness and what I thought he’d be capable of, parentingwise. With J. it was more complicated. It wasn’t, “You’d be a perfect dad,” but rather, “I want to have your babies because I love you and think we’re a good team.” It was, to some degree, “I think I could fill in the gaps.” It was, “I want to try to resurrect my own father.” It was so many things all at once, in that one thought.

Most of all, for me, it wasn’t just, “I want babies ASAP.” It wasn’t, “I want babies, generally,” as some pleasant kind of acquisition, like, “I want chocolate.” It was, “I want your babies, babies that only you and I in all the universe could make together.” I wondered what they would be like, how quirky and smart and stubborn and adorable they would be. I wondered what religion, if any, they would be, which grandparents they’d be like.

He never said anything back (this was via email), and I wondered if he ever realized how big a statement it was for me, how much it meant to go there, to explicitly say it. Right before we broke up, like the day before, he started a sentence with, “If we have kids someday…” and it was so weird to hear that. Of course, it ended with, “can we make them deaf/mute?” or something like that. It was a joke but it also wasn’t; I think we could have pushed to make that happen, but I don’t think that was ultimately in the cards for us. There’s more, but it’s more about me and how I was raised, what was there and what was missing, and what I don’t want to replicate for my kids.

It’s a huge thing to ponder, so huge that sometimes I just resign myself to going it alone. There is a time factor, since I am almost 33 1/2, and feel that my chances slipping away each day. I know technically that’s not true, but it feels like it, like I waited way too long to even start thinking about this. Moreso, my grandparents are old. They are 86 (my grandmother) and 85 (my grandfather) – on different sides of my family. I like to think they will live forever, because I don’t know what I would do without them, but I know they won’t, and more than them seeing a book of mine on the shelves or being generically proud of me or whatever it is I want from them, I want them to meet my kids. I want them to hold them and see them and know them, even if for a short time. I want them to know I’m going to be a good mom. I want my babies to know, even if just by touch, these amazing people who are such a big part of me

So, yeah, no pressure or anything. I don’t mean to look at everyone I date in such terms but I’m not gonna lie: I do. I appreciate certain qualities and values that are about so much more than how a person fucks me. It so happens that my current guy, well, he’s great in both departments. Again, I have no idea if he wants to have kids, let alone with me, but I’m talking about what I see in him and just what I look for when I say those six words. If I do. Because for me it’s about much more than love. I loved J., still do, but I don’t know that he would have been a good match for me in parenting. I want someone who comes to it with as much need as I do. Not just enthusiasm or acceptance, but a need from somewhere deep inside to be a parent. To have that bond, a bond that is separate and apart from me. A bond that is special, theirs. It’s little things, little actions, that make me smile, that make me suspect they would be good at all the caretaking that would be involved – caretaking of me and our kids. As much as I desire being a mom, I so often feel like there is a level of research and knowledge and minutiae to it that has nothing to do with, well, the reasons I want to have kids. It’s like a secret parent language and I wonder if I will ever learn it.

How much am I like Nadya Suleman?

April 10, 2009

Okay, obviously, right now, not so much like her. But…there is something about her story we all find compelling.

Suzanne Tobias writes in The Wichita Eagle:

Something about her story both fascinates and makes me fume.

I think it’s because Suleman illustrates a struggle every parent or prospective parent faces: the volley between heart and head, emotion and reason, decisions and consequences.

There is something irrational, if you will, about wanting to go through pregnancy – I’ll get to that sometime soon, the pregnancy lust, which is different than, strictly, the baby fever. But there is an illogic to it, because it is such a huge deal, a strain on body, mind, finances, relationships. And yet, there is that pull. Not fur everyone, but certainly, for me.

Tobias continues:

Part of me couldn’t wait to experience pregnancy and snuggle a newborn. I love babies. I love their cantaloupe heads, their wrinkled feet, their yawns and grimaces, the intoxicating smell of Ivory Snow and baby shampoo. All of it, divine.

Like Suleman, I envisioned family dinners and Christmas mornings, a house full of laughter and love. I’d love to have lots more children. But I also realize that pitter-pattering little feet eventually require shoes.

It’s no wonder that doctors around the United States have reported a sharp increase in the number of vasectomies recently. When the economy sours, many couples’ concerns about providing for children can overshadow baby fever.

That’s unfortunate. But far more upsetting is Suleman’s shortsighted vision of motherhood and the consequences it poses for her 14 children and everyone — including other working, taxpaying parents — who will help provide for them.

I think that’s fascinating about the economy and vasectomies. I think it’s interesting too because out of all the parents I know, no one has ever said to me, “It costs this much.” It’s always just, “It’s a lot of money” or “It’s not as bad as you think, when they’re babies, anyway.” In real dollars? I have no clue. My income also fluctuates and I’ve lived so paycheck to paycheck for so many years I’ve gotten used to it. I am striving for stability in that regard, not just for me, but for my future children. At the same time, will I ever have “enough” money? Probably not, but I know plenty of people who don’t have “enough” yet make it work.

“More than one, less than five”

April 10, 2009

I have so much I want to blog here, but it’s time to put up or shut up about both “wanting children” and “wanting to blog about wanting children.”

Last night, I realized that I need to start procreating so I can not be the youngest at the seder table and have to say the Four Questions into eternity!

I feel like more and more, my mission is both to work on my creative output, and to find a way of life that will be suitable for kids. A way of living, not just in terms of work/life, but how I treat my leisure time. I constantly feel so guilty about work I’ve fallen behind on, and what I “mean to” do, and that has to stop.

I also am about to go on the Nuva Ring. I tried the Pill but totally couldn’t remember to take it, which my doctor assured me is totally fine. I’m nervous, both about my ability to put it in correctly (I know it only has one place to go, it just seems so weird), and also, well, it seems antithetical to this super strong desire for children I have. I know that it’s not permanent, and that I’m not ready to literally get pregnant right now, but still…it feels strange, like I’m defeating myself.

Also strange is that I’m now dating someone and we’ve talked about my desire to have kids, but I have no idea how he feels. There was a moment when I totally could’ve asked, and I didn’t. It was a funny conversation, me being typically neurotic, wondering whether humanity is mostly good or mostly evil. “If you think it’s mostly evil, it wouldn’t really make sense to have kids and bring them into this evil world,” I said. I think he cited Hannah Arendt, and we philosophized, and then all of a sudden, he goes, “So how many do you want to have?” It was funny, and cute, and sortof cut to the chase.

“More than one, less than five,” I said, after pausing for a few minutes. I was an only child and I don’t want to do that to my kid. Not that it was so awful, because I got a lot of time alone with each parent, especially cause they were divorced and mostly single while I was growing up. But I see so many pairs of kids, see how they relate to one another, how they have this other little person to learn from and look out for and adore. I read my friend Elise Miller’s post about how at the playground she goes to, her two kids are no big deal, the norm, whereas three is the real status symbol.

I read Lori Gottlieb’s (Yes, Lori Gottlieb who wrote the article on not settling for The Atlantic, and who parlayed that into a book and movie deal for Marry Him! Finding Mr. Real.) essay “Planned Parenthood” in Hilary Black’s anthology The Secret Currency of Love: The Unabashed Truth About Women, Money, and Relationships about choosing not to have a second child as a single mom because of the cost and found it…alienating. I do know that children cost money, and yes, when I truly think about it, I fear I will never be able to afford one, let alone “more than one, less than five.” But I also have to believe that the universe, and, probably, my family, will provide in some way to enable me to be a mother when I’m ready.

It’s weird to have that out there, that I want to have kids, and to not know what he thinks. Everything else about what we’re doing is wonderful, but it’s a tough question to bring up. It’s not something casual, especially because if he tells me categorically he never wants them, I’ll have to either break up with him (and we haven’t even “officially” become bf/gf or anything) or continue to be with him but know that I’m not helping my chances of finding someone to raise children with.

I don’t know. Sometimes I think it’ll never happen, that I’m getting too old and am still so…unfinished. Maybe I’ll want to go back to school, get an MBA or a writing degree. Ideally, I’d be home writing freelance articles and novels while babies nurse and run around. That’s my vision, but I don’t even know if I would like that, if I could stand it. I think it’s what I want, but I’m not sure. I want to do the right thing, at this moment, in terms of birth control, because when I do get knocked up, I want to be able to tell my kid(s) they were wanted, planned for, desired, not the result of me being lazy and horny. It just feels like I’m in the wrong life, this blasé single girl city one, when I want to be barefoot and pregnant with a laptop.

Baby smile Friday

April 3, 2009

This blog will be back (or rather, properly starting) soon, with its own domain name, even!

For now, a beautiful 1-year-old baby smile from Madeline Logelin (via Flickr) – do read her dad Matt Logelin’s blog about being a single dad, and, if you can, donate to The Liz Logelin Foundation. Madeline continues to astound me with her happy beauty.