Tuesday, July 31, 2012


So I've heard dozens of people say that they got dogs a preparation for children. I've always been somewhat skeptical of this statement, as even before I had a kid, I was fully aware that you can't put an annoying toddler in a crate for three hours while you go off for drinks. I was fully aware that the stakes with an animal are lower; there is almost no social stigma if, after getting a pet, you realize you can't hack it and give it up.

But, upon reflection, I can see some ways in which my dog has prepared me for being a parent. With the dog, I had to deal with biological messes much worse than anything the Bug produced in her early months. I've cleaned things out of my carpet that I would rather not think about, and that was before she was in the picture. Now my dog has never puked on me, let alone done it for every day for months on end.

But I did have, in HR parlance, previous experience dealing with hazardous biological situations before the Bug was born. In that sense, being a dog owner prepared me for dealing with one of the challenges of parenthood. It also gave me some practice with dealing with an unpredictable creature with a will of its own and a completely different sense of priorities than I might have.

But recently, I've been confronted with a situation that presents me with a question of what exactly dog ownership is preparing me for. On one hand, all of the above referenced stuff got me ready for being a parent, but now, my stupid dog has a Mast Cell tumor on his side. It is potentially quite serious, according to both the vet and the internet. It requires surgery that is expensive, painful, and not without risks. My dog is somewhere between 9 and 11 years old, and as he is a boxer mix, we can reasonably expect him to live another 5 years at the outside. The question becomes is treating this tumor worth it? At present, it isn't interfering with the dog's quality of life. It would extend his life somewhat, but it is also possible that a year after having this surgery, it is possible that he could develop some other health problem or just not wake up some morning.

This seems not entirely different not from a situation I might face with the Bug, but instead one that looms in the less-distant-than-I-probably-care-to-admit future with my parents if or when they become unable to make their own healthcare decisions. In a sense, my dog is more like an adult with some forms of dementia than he is like a toddler; he is nearing the end of his life, he is unable to fully comprehend the situation, and even if he is, he is unable to express what he might want done. Unlike my folks, he doesn't have a reasonably detailed advance directive that gives me guidance as to what I should do. He and I have never had a conversation about these sorts of issues-- but of course, these conversations with my parents are usually brought on by specific situations, and of course, we can't cover every single thing that could come up before it does. (I know this. My mother and I had a number of conversations about these issues, and I still didn't have a clear understanding of what to do when I was in a position to decide if her medical treatment should have been continued. It is the single most difficult decision I have ever made.)

With a child, the rewards of a curative but risky procedure would clearly outweigh the risks and costs. With this dog, at this age, it is not so clear. I'll probably get him the surgery, in the end. but it does seem to be practice at the sort of end-of-life issues I hopefully will never have to deal with with the Bug.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


So one of the on-going themes of this blog is, I think, my unwillingness to be stuffed into the rigid categories that my society would thrust upon me-- things like 'if you breastfeed, you can neither work, nor use a stroller' or 'if you cannot be perfect, you must give up' and 'if your children are not perfectly behaved, you must hide in your house until they can be.'

There are certain rules that I think go into the category of Good Ideas. Like... 'no running in the street' and 'cite your sources' and pretty much all rules around hygienic food preparation and water safety.

I would be glad to go on about my pain-in-the-arse neighbors who let their children run in the street and behave like wild beasts on the savannah, but instead I'm going to talk about water safety today.

I regularly take my daughter to the pool at our local YMCA. I actually go to a Y that is slightly further from our house because it has a separate, zero entry pool for toddlers and small children. In the posted rules for the section of the pool labeled 'Baby Pool,' the following points are salient: it is specifically for non-swimmers and children under the age of 5. Now, I am willing to accept that older siblings of non-swimmers or those under 5 and the developmentally disabled, perhaps.

However, to the pre-teen ninnies who invaded the toddler pool while we were there this morning, however, I would like to suggest that there is a neighboring larger, deeper pool that would be more appropriate. I would also like to say that if they are going to be in the pool that is designed for the use of smaller children, they should be aware of their surroundings and not, perhaps, play games that involve keeping their eyes closed.

To the lifeguards, last I checked the nature of the job is, is in part to enforce the rules of the pool. Yes, there's the making-the-fanny-pack-look-good, and there is also the watching-for-people-drowning thing, but I'm sure that leaves a few minutes out of every hour to ensure the more general safety of the other swimmers at the pool. I mean, I know that you are seventeen years old, and it may seem like a stupid rule, but before the 'big kids' showed up, I could barely keep up with my two-year old, and after they showed up, she wouldn't let go of me. Since I want to teach her to not be afraid of the water and to have fun in the pool, I'd love an assist from the authority figures, m'kay?

To the [absent] parents of the young people in question, I would just like to note that it is in part your responsibility to make sure your kids follow the posted rules. Since the posted rules suggest that you need to at least be on premises, although being in Pilates class counts, their compliance with the posted safety regulations is on your plate.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Ways You are a Better Mom Than Me (And Why I Just Don't Care)

Parenting is competitive. Seriously. On an olympic level. Especially for moms. Don't believe me? Check out the Facebook statuses and photos of your parent friends. They are almost all (mine too) about the wondrousness that is the offspring in question.

The thing about parenting, unlike the Olympics, is that there isn't just one set of rules for it. Some people even adjust the rules just to make sure that they are winning at all times.

I'm not playing anymore. But I'm aware of the ways in which I am loosing. And they're funny. So... the reasons I'm a bad mommy.

1. My 2.5 year old is not yet potty trained. She's occasionally gone on the potty when placed there, but it just doesn't occur to her to ask to go. It also doesn't occur to her to tell us when she's messed her diaper. I figure she probably should have an awareness that dry is better than wet before we can make any real progress on this front. I'll keep asking, but she's not going to make progress on this front until she's ready, no matter how tired I am of diapers.

2. I am no longer breastfeeding my 2.5 year old. She lost interest around the time my production took a nosedive. I know that makes me less mom than some would like.

3. I breastfeed my daughter at all. I get that this might make me a bad feminist or not care about my body image or something. Whatever.

4. I take my daughter to daycare even on days I don't have to work. Firstly, I've already paid for it, and secondly, I think she has more fun there than she would spending the day with kids her own age than with me pretending I enjoy doing Ring-Around-the-Rosie 8000 times in a row.

5. I only work part time. (Since we all know grad school isn't a 'real' job.) I mean, seriously, I know you can bill 80 hours a week at your high-powered job, devote another 20 hours/ week to working out, and then be an awesome parent, but some of us do the best we can. I also know you make more than me with fewer degrees. Haven't I been punished enough?

6. I never, ever wear pearls to do my housecleaning. I rarely clean my house. When I do, it's a big day if it is after I've had a shower and it is for a reason other that 'WTF happened to all the spoons? Again?'

7. My daughter has both watched TV and eaten fast food. I understand we are going straight to hell and she is doomed to a sub-standard life. I hope to redeem myself by mentioning that we drink organically farmed local milk.

Congratulations other Moms. You win. Mostly because I'm not playing. I'm going to have to hang my hopes of a gold medal or blue ribbon on either my knitting skills or on taking up archery late in life and discovering that (against all evidence to the contrary) I'm really good at it.