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Saturday, May 28, 2011

My Little Nook

Ready to celebrate Huei Tozoztli down the street.
Moving back to Long Beach has only gotten better.  I've reconnected with old friends, met new families, and finally feel like I've dug my toes into the sand.  Recently, celebrating Huei Tozoztli, the beginning of the veintena, or Mesoamerican 20-day count, has reminded me the importance of extended family.  When you're the unconventional mother for breastfeeding a two-year old, not spanking your kids, or giving birth unassisted, it's nice to reinforce your "crazy" morals through peer validation.

Coming out of my newborn fog, I realize that I can't parent without this network of loving people.  Where have they been the past few months?  Where have I been?  I have to take care of my children, eat, sleep, breastfeed, cook, clean, and have quality time with Sherm, so sometimes socializing is on the back-burner.  Our contact with other families becomes limited to after yoga chit-chat, meetings with my women's health collective, and farmer's market shopping.  When did I become so anti-social?

Nesting, after our first son.

Maybe I'm a bit disheartened that my community didn't change along with me.  My late-night performances, activist work, weekend meetings- even "community events" weren't conducive to breastfeeding, nap time, crying, or other basic needs a little one has.  A fellow midwifery student and single mother, had the idea for us to study together, raise funds for our education, and together, we began a woman's circle.  From there, I reached out to other families, communities, women, and old friends, educated current ones, and asserted my needs as a mother to the world.
Single, female friends happily take turns holding Itzix, so I can enjoy dessert.

Redefining myself as a mother was a slow, laborious project.  Setting boundaries with my husband, and not holding his gender against him was intense.  I was angry that my body was pushed to it's limit, while he was still able to hit the gym every day.  Instead of asking for his support in my recovery, I wanted him to suffer with me- no amount of pain would be enough!  Instead, our relationship suffered, and our first son felt the emotions of his two parents, angry at each other.  Now that we have overcome our growing pains, Sherman and I have clear, realistic expectations of each other as co-parents, and partners.  I appreciate that during study groups, meetings, exercise, and births, he takes care of our son, understanding the value of my work.
Before our children. Photo by Jennifer Ruggiero

Society expects me to view caring for my children as a bump in the road.  In Western culture a "good baby" is one who interferes very little with your life before kids.  But lives change, along with people, and we must express our needs as mothers to our partners, families, and communities.  Taking my children with me to a safe environment, where I can pop out my titty and nurse, poop my baby in the toilet, nurse both of my children at once, and have direct access to healthy foods, is an indication of a healthy, growing culture.  How fortunate we are, to have a choice in where we live, who we socialize with, and what we eat.

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