Monday, March 31, 2008

Update on foster baby

I just got off the phone with the social worker. They found a home for said baby last Wednesday... but she wanted to talk to me about joining their foster program. I asked her if there really are only 35 Jewish foster homes in Toronto. There are. Really. She said that the email about the baby generated about 100 phone inquiries, but out of those 100 people they'll maybe get three new foster homes, if they're lucky.

We've been invited to an information session in early May. Mr. December and I will go and then decide whether this is something we can commit to. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

cranky calls

My in-laws love to regale people with stories of what a "difficult" and "cranky" baby Mr. December was. Of course, no story is complete without a comparison to Mr. December's brother, who was an "easy baby".

(As an aside, may I point out that Mr. December's brother was passive as a baby and he's passive now, which may explain why he's 32 and single, in a mediocre job, with a VISA card that is payed by his father every month? In the meantime Mr. December, the demanding baby, has a great job, a home, a wife, a baby, and a published book. Passive doesn't necessarily translate well beyond babyhood. But I digress.)

Anytime Kali cries, fusses, or deviates from smiley happy-baby behaviour, my inlaws are quick to point out that a) she's a cranky baby and b) she resembles Mr. December in temperament. Do I need to tell you how much this annoys me? Perhaps not, but I should tell you why.

Kali does not cry without a reason. Boredom, exhaustion, overstimulation - those are all good reasons to cry when crying is your only mode of communication. But why bother learning the baby's cues for naptime when you can just label her "cranky", bounce her and yammer on in babytalk in an attempt to cheer her up, and talk about how her uncle was such a "good baby"? And there's certainly no reason to think that two books, twenty minutes with the gymini, five choruses of "the wheels on the bus", and some tummy time would require a lot of energy and concentration for such a small person. No, she's just "cranky". Oh, is it 9:00 at night? Kali's so cranky for crying all the time! It's not at all possible that she's tired because it's two hours past bedtime and her grandparents have only just served dessert. Duh.

Yes, much of this is about me not wanting my daughter to grow up with the label of "cranky" when she should really be aware that she is energetic, inquisitive, alert, and charismatic. But it's about more. It's about Mr. December.

A big part of me wonders how he might be different if he hadn't grown up being told that he was a difficult, antisocial, grumpy person. His parents may mean it affectionately, but those are all negative attributes.

I also wonder how different it might have been if his parents had ever stopped to consider putting him down for naps earlier, letting him have some quiet time to himself, and developing other adaptive strategies.

And I hurt for the fact that his parents saw him as difficult, like a smoke alarm that trips at the tiniest whiff of steam, instead of like a rechargable battery, which needs only to be put in its familiar dock for a while to recharge before once again powering everyone's enjoyment and lighting up the world.

Friday, March 28, 2008

I called.

I got the social worker's voicemail. I left a message, then emailed her for good measure. I didn't hear back. At this point I guess I probably won't.

I thought I'd feel relieved, but I've got that deflated feeling like someone's let me down.

Thanks for your comments. They helped.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Tell me I'm crazy. Or tell me the truth.

I got an email from my mom a couple of days ago.

It said, "Healthy six month old baby in urgent need of a Jewish foster home. Length of placement unknown." It contained contact information for a social worker at the Jewish social service agency here in town. I read it, sighed, acknowledged that I would do it if only I didn't have a three-month-old tying up my time, and forwarded it to a friend who, I thought, might want to know. I went about my life.

I can't forget about that baby. A very big part of me is itching to call the social worker and offer our home for however long the baby needs us. I understand all the arguments against it: having two babies so close in age is like having twins, which is notoriously difficult; I probably couldn't fit two rear-facing seats in my tiny car; I'd have to drop all my peripheral projects and focus on raising two babies; I'd have all the added responsibility of meeting the agency's standards, documenting any incidents (like the bruises, bumps, and scrapes every baby and toddler inevitably gets), and communicating with a social worker. In short, it would be a lot of hard work.

But raising Kali is a lot of hard work, and yet it's so worthwhile... I love it. I love being a mom. And seeing the way Kali lights up when she hears my voice, seeing how I can soothe her just with my presence, makes me ache for that little baby who, for some reason, doesn't have that kind of bond with a parent. Every baby deserves to be loved the way I love Kali. Could I love a foster child equally? Of course. Any child whom I sing to, rock to sleep, take care of when sick, bathe, change even when s/he's unforgiveably dirty and stinky, is unquestionably my child.

You might be asking why I even think this child might still be in need of a home. The email was sent out on Monday and by the time I call it will be Friday. Wouldn't someone have stepped up by now?

Perhaps... but I recently learned something that disturbed me greatly. Apparently in all of Toronto, which has a Jewish population of more than 164,000, Jewish foster homes number only...

oh, come on, guess. How many do you think?

It's only...

35.

As a Jew, I'm embarrassed. The Torah is full of admonitions to never forget the needy, the widow and the orphan. Orphan, as in a parentless child... are foster children not effectively lacking parents?

I know why the numbers are so low. We're so busy with ourselves and our lives. Toronto's Jewish community is a generous one... but it's a lot easier to be generous with your chequebook than with your time, your home, your arms, and your valuable breakable possessions. There are people who feel they can't afford it, people who don't want to have to spend $1000 to take their foster child to the bahamas with the rest of the family for March break, people who already have six kids and who can't imagine taking on a seventh, even though they eschew birth control and would manage beautifully if God graced their home with a new baby.

And what about us? We've spoken before about the need to put our money where our mouths are. We have a beautiful home with plenty of space for children. I'm a stay-at-home-mom with experience in child development and special needs. I love kids. I speak socialwork-ese. While we may see ourselves as broke after the renovations, we always have food in the fridge, gas in the car, a rented DVD in viewing progress, and a little money left over. We have a wonderfully supportive extended family.

Rabbi Hillel Said:
"If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
But if I am only for myself, what am I?
And if not now, when?"

I'm going to call tomorrow. Please comment as soon as you read this so that I can hear other people's thoughts on this... especially if you've ever fostered an infant or if you're a Jewish foster parent in Toronto. I'll read your comments before I make the call.

I will make the call tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I know you're out there. I can hear you breathing.

Hmm, the silence after my last post was pretty pronounced. I'm left to wonder what caused the lack of typed reactions. Was it just so perfect that there was nothing more to say? (not likely)... insensitive and gloating about motherhood now that I've got it? (maybe, but I don't quite think so)... totally unremarkable and reeking of filler?

At least I know what the problem isn't. The problem isn't that nobody's reading. You see, I now have statcounter on my side... and apparently, there are a lot more of you reading than the comments let on. Like, at least 10 times more. Way to make me feel popular, internets!

I did get a kick out of seeing where some of you are coming from. I'd like to take a second to give a warm Canadian welcome to my readers in Russia, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Australia, Slovenia, and all of y'all who are closer to home. I'm amazed that you want to follow my story. In the words of Apu Nahasapimapetilon, thank you and come again!

Probably one of the most interesting things statcounter does for me is list the google searches that have led to my blog. Somehow I just never expected people to find me by asking Google whether they can get pregnant from swallowing their partner's spunk. But that's a whole 'nother post for another day.

So yeah, I just wanted to say hi to all of you playing along at home. Leave me a comment sometime... I'd love to visit you too.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

party girl

Last night we went to my brother's engagement party.

First off, I have to say that I was a very yummy mummy. I got a haircut yesterday so that my hair would be nicely done with minimal effort on my part. Then I had my makeup done, because my brother's fiancee wanted us to try out the makeup artist she wants to use for the wedding. I wore a very hot red dress and the only pair of heels that doesn't make my hips hurt. Wowza. I haven't looked like that in a looooong time. I even made it through the night without leaking milk all over my top.

Kali was dressed up, too... and she was totally playing the crowd. Seriously, she pulled out all the adorable stops* and was smiling, cooing, waving, grabbing hands... what a flirt! Everyone wanted to hold her, and being the relaxed mom that I am, I let them. I didn't know where she was most of the time, but we have a very close extended family and so I knew she'd be in good hands.

This is all a prelude to the fact that I've been thinking about Shlomit's latest post and wondering what it really means to be a mother. I mean, when you distill the whole motherhood thing... when you take into account the wonderful nurturing and affection and care that close relatives and friends can lavish on a baby, what does it really mean to be the mother?

My cynical side is jumping up and down, frantically waving her hand like a kindergartener who needs to pee. "Oooh! Oooh! I know! The mother is the person the baby gets returned to when she's pooped through her entire outfit and thrown up all over herself!"

Hmmm. True, I suppose. Partial credit, Cynical Sara.

Last night Kali was given back to me twice. Both times she was crying and couldn't be jollied out of it. I took her upstairs to my old room, nursed her, sang some songs, and she was happy and smiley again. We snuggled and chatted.

Being the mummy does mean that you can't pass the baby to someone else when the shit hits the fan... or the clothes. The buck stops with you. But the baby stops with you, too. When the child is grumpy, sick, sad, or hurting, you're the one who can make it better just by being. You're the mother.





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*I think I just figured out where the phrase "pulled out all the stops" came from. When playing a pipe organ, the stops are the things you push in to get a different timbre, tone, or volume. When you pull out all the stops, you get the loudest, fullest sound possible. Wow, I'm so S-M-R-T!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Irony?

Kali spent a couple of hours screaming yesterday.

When I woke up this morning, my voice was gone.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

close encounters of the bloggy kind

Today I met Lisa B. I liked her instantly.

Maybe it was the way she was dressed - for comfort - or maybe the way she talks to her girls like they're intelligent people (did I mention I hate baby talk?). Or maybe it was the free gymini she gave me. Anyway, she's way cool.

(At this point if *I* were way cool, I'd be giving mad props to Lisa. Do people still do that, or am I thinking back to high school? Did I mention that I'm not so way cool?)

Right. So Lisa is awesome, her girls are gorgeous, and her taste in decorating is good. Visiting her totally made my day.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Overheard in the December household II

7:00 a.m.

Mr. D: Fuck... HONEY... FUCK!!!!
Kali: WAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!! WA! WA!! WAAAAA!!!
DB: (jumps up from bed, runs to Kali's room)
Mr. D: We are NOT doing this again! Next time she eats first!
Kali: WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!
DB: Why don't you have a clean diaper out?
Kali: WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!
Mr. D: There ARE no clean diapers! We forgot to refill the drawer!
(Mr. D stomps back to bed)

DB: Did you have fun this morning?
Kali: ooooo.
DB: Did you pee all over and make Daddy say "Fuck"?
Kali: (smiles, delighted squeal)
DB: That's my girl.


10:30 a.m.

DB: fuck! I need an adult! Fuck!
Kali: (grins)
Mr. D: what happened?
DB: Poo.
Mr. D: (groan)
Kali: ooo!
DB: That's it, little girl. If you go through one more outfit before noon today, we're turning you into a naked free-range baby. No more clothes for you.
Kali: (smile)

Friday, March 07, 2008

I'd hate to see these go to waste if someone can use them...

So I'm offering them up to the internets.

I have a 5 coupons for Huggies diapers and 1 coupon for huggies wipes, valid in Canada only. Anybody want them? I'd gladly mail them to any of you, even the lurkers who never comment!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

not sick after all

It seems I'm just overtired. Thank God.

Last night, Kali started getting really fussy around 6:30. We started our routine and she was asleep in her crib by 7:15. The only problem was that she woke up at 5:30 ready to start a new day.

"Little girl," I said, "in this house the day does not start until 8:00 at the earliest. Go back to sleep."
"But eeema, look how smiley and awake I am! Let's plaaaay!"
"No way," I replied, avoiding eye contact. "We're gonna sit in this rocking chair in the dark until you go back to sleep. It's not daytime yet."
"Ha ha! I know how tired you are, eema, and if I stay awake long enough you'll give in and put me in my swing!"

In the end, Kalanit was right. I chucked her into the swing, gave her a pacifier, and went back to bed. The joke's on her, though. She fell asleep and didn't wake up again until 9:00.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

as if.

I think I'm getting sick. I told my mom, and she was like, "get yourself some masks to wear around Kali. That way she won't get sick."

As if, mom. As if.

We nap nose to nose every morning.
When her pacifier falls on the floor, I lick it off and then give it back to her.
Sometimes she latches onto my nose and sucks the daylights out of it.
I give her my finger to suck on if she's inconsolable and there's no pacifier around.

And I'm sure there are more things that completely eliminate the possibility that she won't get my germs. It's a good thing that she gets my antibodies by nursing.

Cross your fingers that I'm just overtired and not actually sick.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Fun with a Meme

Mel over at Stirrup Queens pretty much tagged everyone who reads today's post... so here I go with a meme...

Ten things you'll never hear me say

10. Blue is for boys.
9. I can't wait to stop breastfeeding.
8. One kid is enough for us.
7. (to Mr. D.) Sweetheart, don't feel inhibited. It's okay to eat with your fingers!
6. I just wish my MIL came over more often!
5. Coffee? Yes, please!
4. Road trips suck.
3. Honey, I can't handle this power drill. You do it.
2. He just has to look at me and BAM! Pregnant.
1. Do you want fries with that?


Oh, and tag... you're all it. Go forth and meme!