Thursday, March 31, 2011

the beer is nourishing

i've been posting all seriously lately, so this is a change of pace.
i just changed the picture in my header to one of my favorite pictures of all time. it says "the beer is nourishing". it is an oldtime PSA advising moms that drinking beer will increase milk supply, improve mood, and lead to fat and happy babies. i totally agree. probably the best parenting advice i've ever gotten.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

in defense of premarital sex

i am so glad that i did not wait to have sex until marriage. in fact, i'm not only glad that i wasn't a virgin when i got married, i'm also glad that i wasn't a virgin when i met my husband. not only am i glad, but also feel morally sound. this may be a shocking statement to many of my religious friends, but i don't make it offhandedly or for shock value. before i continue, let me preface with a disclaimer. A) i am talking about premarital sex, not teen sex. they are separate issues that are too often confused. B) i am talking about my own experience, and what i have personally witnessed. if it is different from your experience, great. i'm not judging anyone else's experience.

the way i see it, there are two major disservices done to people by pushing abstinence until marriage. first, those who do have sex are more likely to have unsafe sex. rather than making informed sexual choices and being prepared (condoms, birth control, etc), young people from the "waiting" camp end up taking greater risks with their health. furthermore, they aren't able to seek education and advice because if they admit to having sex the only acceptable response within the church is total shame. you can only admit to being sexually active if you are repenting, never in hopes of finding guidance about physically and emotionally healthy sexual relationships. messages to young single christians always talk about how damaging premarital sex is, but it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. sex without physical education and emotional support is indeed damaging, but it is the church that forces premarital sex into this category and then piously states "told you so" when someone ends up pregnant or emotionally scarred.

secondly, those who don't have sex often develop a really weird view of what marriage is and means. in many singles groups marriage is only talked about in terms of being the appropriate venue for sex, and many young couples get married to satisfy hormonal urges rather than for healthy and loving reasons. rigidly teaching abstinence until marriage is intended to make marriage something special, but what it really does is oversimplify and devalue marriage and set couples up for failure. they marry the first person they are overwhelmingly sexually attracted to, regardless of long term compatibility. alternately, i know couples who so bought into the idea of sex as being sinful that even once they were married they didn't consummate it.

christian singles are told that premarital sex will ruin future relationships and lead to divorce. they are told that any sex outside of marriage is 100% wrong and only about using people. but in my opinion, a major way to ruin a marriage is to go into it thinking it is simply a license to have sex, rather than seeing it as spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually, as well as sexually meaningful. and what worse way to use someone than to marry them just for sex?

i firmly believe that my marriage is stronger and better because having sex did not figure into the decision to get married. my husband and i didn't choose eachother as marriage partners simply because we wanted eachother as sexual partners. nor did we get married because we had sex and felt guilty and obligated. we got married because we love and respect eachother deeply, are best friends, and want to be together for life. we had sex while we were dating, and experiencing my then boyfriend as a sexual partner showed me important things about his character that made me want him as my husband. part of why i knew he was the man i wanted to marry was because i knew in the most intimate way that he was respectful, considerate, generous, and fun. getting to know eachother physically while we were dating helped us get to know eachother on many levels. by the time we decided to get married we knew eachother deeply and trusted eachother deeply, in part because we had been sexually intimate. our hormones didn't make the marriage decision for us because we didn't repress them, and instead they helped to build a strong relationship that ended up being something we decided to continue for the rest of our lives.

but for me it goes a step further. i am glad that i had sex before i met my husband. i am glad that the awkwardness of first sex had worn off and i was free to just enjoy him. a lot of my embarrassment with my own body and inhibitions were gone, so i could be a more attentive and joyful lover. i am glad that i had other sexual partners as a comparison, in the same way that i'm glad i had dated other men. that way when i felt a deep emotional, intellectual, and sexual connection with him i knew that it wasn't simply because he was the first but rather because he was the "one".

rather than setting us up for failure in marriage, premarital sex helped us to build a strong foundation of love and respect for and enjoyment of eachother. we went into marriage recognizing and respecting it as a union of souls and lives, not just of bodies.

to be fair, i know that choosing not to have premarital sex is right for some people. many healthy marriages happen between people who are virgins until the wedding night. sex is not the only way to learn intimately about someone. my point is that it is a valid way, and that vilifying sex is often detrimental to individuals and relationships.

furthermore, purity, in my opinion (which i believe to be biblical), has a lot more to do with personal integrity, respect and care for others, and honesty - with what's inside - than with the state of one's hymen. obsessing about physical "purity" obscures the real issue and lets people off the hook of being internally pure. although i was not physically a virgin when i got married, i believe that i entered into marriage in purity...purity of spirit. isn't that what jesus was always talking about? in the gospels jesus chides his disciples for focusing on outer purity (in their case it was dietary laws) rather than inner purity. he said that what comes out of a person is what makes them pure, not what goes in. he talked to the woman at the well about living with a man who wasn't her husband, but the issues were adultury and promiscuity, not virginity. in fact, in all of the gospels i don't recall jesus mentioning premarital sex at all.

Friday, March 25, 2011

love song to my baby weight

my floppy breasts and soft stomach and wide hips are beautiful. when i look in the mirror i am proud to own the body that i see there. my hips are wide because they carried a baby for 9 months and then pushed her out. they are beautiful because they are strong. my belly is soft because it stretched to make a home for my baby, and so that she has a comfy place to lay now. it is beautiful because it is flexible and kind. my breasts are large and sagging because they are full of milk to nourish and comfort my baby. they are beautiful because they are resourceful and generous.

for years i had what many considered an "ideal" body, but i was never happy with it. there was always something i wanted to change, erase, my mind, beauty was about getting rid of things. i liked to think of my body as something i was sculpting, and that beauty lay in taking away everything extra or unwanted. but no matter how low my weight was or how small my clothing size or how firm my stomach, i never really felt beautiful. there was always something more i could work on, so i was never satisfied.

now i realize that beauty is about life and growth and love. my body is only as beautiful as it is generous, open, and alive. i am not a sculpture. i am a garden. the weight, and the stretch marks, and the wrinkles that are added and that will be added in time are signs of life. my body is the soil from which the rest of me springs.

my arm and shoulder and back muscles are growing bigger and stronger from carrying my daughter. teaching my baby that she is loved and supported and protected is having a physical effect. the spiritual/emotional/mental cannot be separated from the physical. i am one being. if i want to be generous of spirit i must be generous of body, because they are one. i find that the kinder and more accepting i am to my own body, the more i am able to accept others.

it is heartbreaking to me to see so many articles, books, adds, etc. about "getting your body back after baby" if your body was something that had been stolen. i don't feel like my body was stolen by motherhood. if anything, i recognized and embraced my body as truly mine for the first time. i want to be healthy and fit, but i don't want my old body back. i want to know when i look at myself that i am strong, and flexible, and kind, and resourceful, and generous. i want to see all the places that i have been, and the love that i have given.

before having a baby my body was firm and small. it was a girl body. but now it is a woman body. occasionally i miss some of my old clothes that i'll never fit into again, or miss looking like the girls in the magazines. but for the first time in my life, i am really happy and proud of the way i look. in pregnancy and motherhood i found an appreciation of and respect for my body that i never had before.

sometimes people ask me what i like most about being a mom. what i like most about being a mom is that i am learning to be myself. it's strange that it took someone else living in my skin for me to become comfortable in it. strange, and beautiful.

Friday, March 4, 2011


these are my new glasses. i haven't worn glasses in years, though not because i didn't need to. i had no idea how clear the computer screen could look. i didn't realize how much i was straining to see things until i stopped having to squint. it's awesome. and i feel very sexy-librarian in them.

cloth diapers FTW

i loooooooooooove cloth diapering! i know how weird it sounds to say that i enjoy diapering, but with cloth diapers i honestly do. changing diapers as a hobby instead of a chore? - i'll take it. the fun of cute cloth diapers is exactly the same as the fun of cute baby clothes, except that i can feel extra good about them because they are so functional and healthy.
i thought it was going to be a huge hassle, and i really only started for financial reasons, but i really like it. i love that even figuring in the cost of fabric and covers, i'm going to be saving $20 per month on diapers. i love that weird chemicals and plastics aren't coming into contact with haven's skin all the time. i love that i'm not dumping those weird chemicals and plastics into landfills to sit for the next 200ish years. i love how cute haven looks with her enormous cloth diapered butt.
it's been trial and error getting started, but i've learned a lot and i'm definitely going to cloth diaper any more kids that i have. i started out using the all-in-one, works-just-like-disposable diapers, because i was intimidated by the old-fashioned ones. but i like the old style diapers better now. there's a lot more flexibility with fit and absorbancy and they are easier to wash and dry. and, i enjoy making my own and using it as a chance to work on my sewing skills.
i suppose if i was a squeemish person i might not like cloth as much, but i don't know....i actually might get less poop on me with cloth because haven almost never manages to blow out cloth diapers the way she would blow out disposables. besides, parenthood is not for those with weak stomachs anyways. maybe it will get way grosser when haven starts eating more solids, but i think the gross laundry will still be less gross than getting pooped on all the time when poo squirts out the top and legs of the disposables.
being on a limited budget means that i can't be nearly as environmentally and health conscious as i'd like. i can almost never afford to buy organic food and household products. but using cloth diapers is a way to live mindfully and protect haven from health risks without breaking the bank. i actually love cloth diapers so much that i'm considering making and using cloth feminine pads, too. we'll see how that goes.