Motherhood’s New Clothes

Is there anything worse than the perfume-pushers at department stores who douse the unwary? Probably not, but I also don’t like fashion or makeup or shopping. My ovaries have even failed me in my laundry endeavors. In fact, it is entirely possible that I am not a woman at all, except for those three children who miraculously arrived to suckle at my bosom and sing Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam all day.

Most of the time when people talk about fashion, I think of the Emperor’s New Clothes fairytale. Or Thoreau, who advised: “beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.” This is when I’m not thinking about other intellectual things like what’s for dinner and what was on TV last night.

Fashion is a creative, subjective thing. One person’s [insert high-fashion label] is another person’s thrift shop bargain (unless by thrift you mean “vintage,” in which case they really ARE the same thing). Consider this ring featured in The New York Times.

The comments were the best thing about this column, proving again that the Internet really is like manna, a gift from Heaven that nourishes and allows the unempowered a format for correcting the hubris of salaried journalistas. Here are just a few:

is that my highschool ring? (Mary)

What a find! It must be really difficult to research and source these unique items, what with a Banana Republic on every other corner in NYC and most shopping malls around the country. Maybe you could do a piece on gum ball machine jewelry too. (Sar Casm)

That is one ugly ring — why not go to Salvation Army or Goodwill and pick up something for $1? (Casino Con)

Man, I love the internet. Only, let’s not diss Salvation Army, ok?

Speaking of fashion and motherhood, though, my good friend Andrea dropped out of high school to marry her high school sweetheart. (And no, she didn’t “have to”). She later took the GED and got a plaque from the state of Utah congratulating her on getting the high score that year. Then she became a pharamicist, and then later she said something profound about fashion and motherhood, which brought me a lot of vindicatory satisfaction at the time.

In her visits with new mothers at the hospital, Andrea said she could often tell which mothers were going to breastfeed by how they looked after the birth. Breastfeeding was less common in those mothers who fussed over their hair and clothes and makeup than those who looked like death warmed over. Since I looked like death not even warmed over after giving birth, I thought this sounded only fair. Who has time/energy/desire to primp with a bloodsucking eel attached 24/7?

Then Mrs. Fussypants had to go and give birth to her fifth boy child. And then she had to go and wear pearls. And earrings. And, is that mascara? And I KNOW she breastfeeds.

At least she did have to suffer the crime against humanity known as the hospital gown. Otherwise I’d have to hate her. As it is, I’m thinking I need to reconsider my principled stand against Beautified Mother Barbie. Now that Barbie breastfeeds, and all.

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p.s. Thanks to Fussy for allowing me to use her picture.

p.p.s. I didn’t ask Andrea’s permission before outing her as a smart high school dropout and probably misrepresenting her words egregiously. I hope she can forgive me.

Earth Mother Day

I confess I’m not very green. I don’t even have much desire to be green — too lazy, too busy, too unconvinced that driving a Prius will save the planet when apparently production of a hybrid battery contaminates it. Too worried that anything I do won’t make enough of a difference. And too lazy. Did I already say that one?

I buy those funny twisty lightbulbs, but only because it saves shopping trips in the long run. I make most of our food from scratch, but only because it tastes better that way. And I run the washer and dryer sparingly, but that’s only because if I washed the clothes I’d probably have to fold and put them away. More energy wasted!

I would like to do my part for Earth day though, especially since the Seattle Mom Blogs and Goodies for Mom ladies seem really earnest about everyone doing their part, though every time a “green product” is promoted, I get just a bit skeptical.

Here’s the one thing I’ve done very conscientiously and consistently in the past seven years, and all for the good of mankind:

Breastfeeding. It’s natural, it’s healthy, it’s downright biological. And it’s cheap. And easy, once you figure it out and it stops hurting like a mother (get it?). There’s a lot of misinformation out there about breastfeeding though, so I thought I’d list a few of the Myths of Breastfeeding. If you think I don’t know what I’m talking about, you’re probably right, but I have nursed three kids until they were 11 months 3 weeks, 14 months, and 18 months old. And my first kid? Sally? She was 9 lb 3 oz at birth and 10 lb 14 oz at 10 days old. Beat that, Enfamil!

(If you can’t or don’t breastfeed, don’t feel bad. We’re only talking about saving the planet, after all. Ah, ah, I joke! I jest! Just don’t look at me and my disposable diapers like that, ok?).

Myths of Breastfeeding

1) Baby knows how to breastfeed. Reality: Baby is freaking clueless and so are you. Get a consultant, read books, watch youtube.

2) Consultants know how you should breastfeed. Reality: If any one lactation consultant knew how every mother should breastfeed, she would be a millionaire. Talk to a mother or sister or friend.

3) Breastfeeding only hurts if baby is not latching on correctly. Reality: Take a sensitive organ. Any sensitive organ. Attach a gnawing, clamping, totally self-involved, bloodsucking parasite to that sensitive organ for approximately 7 hours at a time 23 times a day for one year. Oh yes, that feels good.

4) When you’ve finally mastered breastfeeding, you’ll have years to enjoy this incredible bond with another human being. Reality: Sooner than you’re ready, it’s time to wean. No matter how much you hated it at first, or felt like a dairy cow the entire time, or wallowed in the sublime connection, baby will move on to Sippy Cups and 2% milk (hopefully from recycled materials and your local dairy goat farm).

I hope the tree huggers appreciate all the mommy breastfeeders! Sometimes I wonder, especially whenever there is another brouhaha about breastfeeding in public. Please. Can we talk about something more socially significant, like whether or not teenagers should be allowed to breathe in public or adults to talk politics in non-trans-fat-using restaurants?

Breast-feeding: Anytime, Anywhere

And that’s what works for me.

Hide the Hunchback

First, another confession, and then, an honest-to-appearance tip.

I ran (in the minivan) to Walmart right after walking with Shalece today. While I didn’t shower or anything, I did change out of my exercise clothes.

But if the same kind of people shop at your Walmart as do at mine (people like me), then you know that I was NOT the most frumpy person there.

That didn’t stop Susan from saying to the (surprisingly well-styled) cashier “You have pink lips.”


This is what I looked like (Susan wondered why I was taking a picture of the mirror. Finally got her to be quiet by working her into the shot).

I wanted to get a picture of my back because that’s the subject of my Fight the Frump tip today: Hide the hunchback.

Now, I don’t know if this is a common woman problem, or if it is specific to my family, but I have to say that I think I get it from my mom. We just have a bit of a hump at the top of our spines. So I feel weird wearing shirts cut low, even a little bit, in the back.

It’s for sure not a calcium deficiency, ’cause we drink enough chocolate milk (Nesquik with added Calcium: we’re healthy like that) to float your boat (literally).

So when I went shopping with Tara for spring dresses, I kept my hunchback in mind. I picked her out a cute pink-y Easter dress and found a rather Autumnal (flattering darker colors) ensemble for myself for $15.50 at Ross. I love making Dick guess how much I paid for clothes. Perhaps he’s humoring me after ten years of this game, but he always guesses outrageous amounts ($35? $25?) and then acts all relieved when I say “$15.50” “for both the skirt AND shirt.”

Notice how the Mandarin-ish collar hides the hunchback, but it vees in front so I don’t feel choked to death. My breasts look kinda saggy (who’s still nursing?), but I promise I am wearing a bra in this picture, one of two I own; maybe I shouldn’t have thrown them in the dryer.

Speaking of bras, and nursing (anytime, anywhere), I loved Fussy’s post this week on Nursing with STYLE. The only thing I’d add is that great longer-length camisoles can be found at ‘modesty’ stores like Shade and Down East Basics. They’re sometimes a bit shrink-wrapped for this body, but that’s not necessarily a drawback for an underlayer.

Can’t wait to see what the other Frump-Fighters tackle this week, though I am trying to keep my participation secret from Dick. Don’t want to raise any unrealistic expectations.

Well-meaning strangers

A funny thing happened on the way out of an Arizona Costco last week. The cashier (who was maybe early 20s) looked from my 2% milk to 18-month-old Spot on my hip and asked, Are you buying this for your daughter? When I said, Why yes, he persisted: You asked the doctor and he said it’s okay?

Huh? (So many things wrong with that question; not least of which is assuming that my kids’ pediatrician is male.)

Actually, no, I didn’t ask the doctor. I decided on my own that it was okay.

He looked pretty disapproving but rang me up anyway. I wondered if he would feel better knowing that I still breastfeed Spot 2-3 times a day. But then he might feel worse if he saw Spot drinking out of my 55-cent Coke fountain drink. Or really worse if he knew what I was contemplating two short days later, in a crappy hotel just far enough from the Grand Canyon to be cheap. Where we had two queen beds for the five of us.

Dick got kick-you-in-the-head Susan. I got teeth-grinding, nose-picking, knee-you-in-the-face Sally, and Spot, who, when she wasn’t sitting on my head screeching, was doing her best to gnaw my nipple off. Remind me again why you like to co-sleep? And nurse until your kids are seventeen?

As I lay there I wished for a fifth of whiskey which I would have fed to Spot from a chipped, dirty jelly jar if only I knew how to procure whiskey and knew why anyone would only want a fifth of it. Wouldn’t a whole whiskey be a better value?

I think we can only be grateful to that cashier’s mother for breastfeeding him (which I assume because I too like to make snap infant-feeding-method judgments about complete strangers, though I usually try to be slightly more discreet) as he is obviously making good use of every bit of those two extra IQ points. Similar to how Dick likes to tell me just think how smart you’d be if you didn’t have Downs Syndrome.

Here’s a picture of poor, underfed, neglected Spot.


And here’s another one where you can see how that missing 2% of milkfat has led to a serious dearth in cute creases on her neck and arm. That is one starving child!


And the Grand Canyon? Merely a footnote to a great trip Tara has documented so well here and here. You can even read about what great guests we are. Do you want us to come stay with you too? We’d be happy to grace your guest bedroom. Anything to avoid more cheap hotels.

I thought we’d hit the nadir with that awful hostel in London during Spring Break 2000, but even strangers having sex in a single bed across the room (while we, the cheap marrieds, kept to our lonely berths) wasn’t as bad as sleeping in unfamiliar environs with three children.

Sally said she was sick of looking at the Grand Canyon after ten minutes. Susan liked it a lot too, as you can tell from her rapt expression here.


I guess I should be glad that Costco cashier didn’t see all the DVDs and fruit snacks we took on the trip. Our kids will be lucky to have any brain cells left after multiple viewings of Blue’s Clues Shape Searchers. But then maybe he would be glad to know we coached our kids well before the Easter egg hunt. Don’t let the boys take all the eggs. If they’re there first, fine, but If you’re reaching for it, you get it.


Or maybe he thinks Easter egg hunts are pagan and inappropriate. Aaack. What to do? Maybe I’ll have to go back to get his advice.

I submitted this to Tickle-Me Tuesday, because it actually was Tuesday when I wrote this, despite my computer’s intransigence, and also, it really tickled me.