Sunday, November 18, 2007

listen up.

Not so long ago someone asked about what items I find essential as a mother. I think Breasts hold the top two positions, and beyond that, I couldn't really think of much. Books? I sure rely on reading a whole lot. Feet? Cranky kids, cranky mama? Go take a walk already. This was probably a question posed with regard to newborns and infants, so those things wouldn't even be relevant. My babies have slept with me and I've never had an alternative sleeping place for them, so nothing there. Oh, the sling. I still throw my boy on my hip in the ring sling. When he was thirteen months, I carried him for five days all over Disneyland and it was such a snap being in such a big, busy place with a little baby. As he grew heavier (I say ironically about the boy who started out over ten pounds and was twenty-three by five months!) I relied more and more on the ergo carrier. I sure found it an essential item when we were preparing to move from Arizona; that's the sort of tough job which requires two free hands. It was helpful to strap him on my back and get to work. I would recommend it heartily to anyone considering different baby carriers. But now that he's a proper toddler, those in-arms days getting farther and farther away, I admit that I don't need to use it daily anymore. I'll tell you what I do use, though. And this may surprise you. My ipod. It's the exact tool I need to give my boy the patience he needs and I really don't know what I'd do without it.

Now, it might just be that I'm more mellow, in general, than I was seven years ago when the girl was the age her brother is now. Time has a way of softening scratchy edges. I remember feeling so beaten down and defeated with her endless nursing when she was a toddler. Now, I'm all for extended nursing and somewhat child-led approach to weaning. But sometimes it can feel like too much! She nursed until she was three and a half and, now, looking back I regret not a day of it. It's such a short time in a whole, long life. I've never been in any hurry for my babies to grow up, they seem to do that fast enough all on their own. But I was, and still am, in an awful big hurry for them to fall asleep at naptime, at night. Those are the times when nursing is barely tolerable, when I grit my teeth in irritation because I need to be up doing something else, sweeping floors, folding laundry, watching a movie with my husband. And the less patient I am, the longer the process seems to take and the more resentment builds up and the larger my reactionary guilt grows and it's just no good at all.

Last year my husband gave me an ipod for Christmas. It took me a while to integrate it into my routines. Initially, I uploaded a bunch of our cds onto it. I intended to use it in my car (with a digital receiver) because I do not have a working CD player (who still uses cassette tapes in the car? I do!). But I never got into the hang of carrying it with me and it made quick trips and errands too complicated. And that's when I discovered the world of podcasts. I downloaded a bunch of my favorite npr shows. The ones I love to listen to, but usually miss. And the most obvious time to catch up and listen was when I was nursing the boy to sleep. I could lay there and listen in the dark and not fall asleep. I could lay there and listen in the dark and not get antsy and crabby and impatient. It's pleasant, even, to have nothing else to do but lay there and be quiet and listen to something intriguing.

So am I getting more mellow, or did I just find a better way to give my kid what he needs without losing my mind? I don't know but you can bet I keep my ipod charged. I don't expect him to wean anytime soon. I do know that I am making a habit now out of appreciating the chance to be still and quiet with him. I do hope that if I say it to myself enough, now, that I will, indeed, remember this stage when I'm old and he's grown as a sweet, sweet time.

Are you just itching to know what I listen to? No? I'll tell you anyway. The last few nights I've been going through the archives of Speaking of Faith. I don't usually enjoy programs with a religious or philosophical bent, as they so rarely reflect anything that resembles my own value system. But I haven't heard an episode of this show yet that I haven't found somehow compelling.

I keep several crafty podcasts in my rotation, ostensibly for inspiration (though please don't come looking to see what I've made lately). I'm always glad when there's a new Creative Mom Podcast to download. She's always intentional and thoughtful and, even though I confess to sometimes zonking out when I'm listening, I like following along on her artistic journey. Craftypod's good. It makes 'making things' very accessible and the little music bits make me think, when I'm listening in the dark with my eyes closed, that I'm in a bamboo-covered-wall modern tiki room and any second somebody's going to fix me a cocktail (oh, I don't even drink cocktails, so you know I'm being silly, but I think the music has this very fifties party flair to it and you'll have to hear for yourself and tell me if you agree or not).

Radio Lab is another public radio show that is not on my local affiliate. It's so neat having the option to hear shows that aren't broadcast locally. This show almost always sparks some discussion between me and my husband. I listen and then we both talk. (I guess I could return the favor and get him an ipod, too).

And then, of course, all the old npr stand-bys, like This American Life and Splendid Table and Fresh Air. Who has time to listen to all those? I do! One sleepy boy at a time.


Lisa said...

Oh my! Yes, yes yes. Those toddler nursing sessions can be so like you described. I'm very glad that I'm not the only one with those feelings because I kind of feel like I'm a bad mom when I feel resentful and impatient like that. Using an ipod is a great idea. I'd never thought of that. I haven't gotten into podcasts, but I do have an MP3 player with music. I also read a lot when nursing and that helps with some impatience as well.

deb #1 said...

I can't believe I have never heard of Splendid Table before now, but I subscribed and am downloading all the past episodes right now. Have you listened to Hidden Kitchens, a podcast from the Kitchen Sisters? I recommend it. I am also downloading Kitchen Windown, which is a companion to Splendid Table. Thanks for hooking me up, I'm always ready for a new podcast while nursing all those hours.

Angelina said...

My nursing days are long over but I still can relate to this and I would have loved having an ipod when I was nursing. I generally enjoyed the quiet time with Max but there were times when I felt antsy and resentful as well. He weaned himself though (at 13 months) so I really didn't nurse nearly as long as you or Lisa.

Now I would just like to have an ipod to take to the gym and it would be great to be able to hear NPR programs. I never hear them anymore. I never think about turning on the radio. Now I feel like I've been missing something pretty great.

Perhaps it is time to reconnect with the radio. Or get an ipod.